#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘The Question is Who, and the answer is…’ #SaturdayThoughts #Tanka

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

 This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to begin a post starting with the word ‘who’. Join in and have fun!

This morning, as I do most mornings, as part of my morning routine, I wrote my morning pages. There are many ways to write your morning pages, more in tomorrow’s post, but for me it’s just one page of free writing which takes about ten minutes to write in my journal. This morning I responded to Linda’s prompt and started with the word ‘who’. Here’s what I wrote.

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Click on the link to listen to the podcast The Question is ‘Who’, and the Answer is…. 

 

Who said life would be easy, or fun, or even interesting?

Who told you all your dreams would come true?

Who predicted true love and happiness were in your path?

Perhaps it was your parents, or a TV ad or programme, or a grandparent, friend, teacher, or even a therapist?

Or maybe You decided that You were worth it, that You were enough, that it was You who foretold and visualised your future and then made it come true by turning wishes into goals with careful planning, perseverance, hard work, motivation and determination? And why not? A little help along the way.

It was You who made the promises, and it is You who can make them come true.

Who said it was possible, valuable and deserved? You

Who said it was impossible, worthless or undeserved? You

Who is right either way? You

It is always You. So, believe in yourself, work on yourself, plan to make your dreams become goals and make them come true, because your life is a gift, and You have the power; it’s in your hands.

The question is WHO, and the answer is YOU.


Writing this post has reminded me of the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

Here’s the last stanza:

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

I Hope you’re having a wonderful Saturday! Take care and stay safe.

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Stay Calm’ #SaturdayThoughts

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to use a word starting with the letters “cal” as our prompt word. Join in and have fun!

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Stay Calm

Calm is a word which has become one of my favourites. Every day is full of tiny problems which give could lead to disaster if I don’t find a solution. A broken washing machine, losing my car keys, forgetting my best friend’s birthday, a toothache, a traffic jam which makes me late to an important appointment, a bad hair day…

On any day, so many little things can go wrong and cause havoc, but if I react by losing my nerves, which I sometimes do, it only makes matters worse. On the other hand, I can usually find simple solutions to most small, daily problems if I react calmly.

Machines can be repaired, if it’s urgent I can access a dry cleaners or laundromats, hairdresser’s, dentists, or an Uber. If I calm down, I can find most misplaced objects (once I put the keys in the freezer and found them retracing my steps!). A heartfelt apology or an honest excuse will often work wonders when I’ve made a mistake. Responding to a rude client (in my case student) with more rudeness or anger will only increase the problem, calm them down or ask them to leave. But if I’m worked up, the solution to even the simplest problem becomes impossible.

So how do I calm down when I’m feeling hysterical? The following simple activities take between 2 and 10 minutes and I find they usually help me relax.

1- Controlling my breathing does wonders, I love the breathing technique recommended by Dr Chatterjee; three in, hold for four and breathe out in five, then repeat until I feel calmer.

2- If I can, I find a quiet spot and close my eyes, and breathe slowly and visualise the problem and think of a solution.

3- I’m a great believer in the power of writing lists, so just sitting down for a few minutes and writing a list of possible solutions, also helps.

4- Asking for help. If I can’t solve it myself, I think about who I could phone and ask for help.

How do you keep calm? 

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘March 2020-March 2021: A Year to Remember’ #SaturdayThoughts

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to write about this past year to share our common experiences as a way to connect, to feel a little less alone, perhaps. 

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March 2020- March 2021: A Year to Remember

I’d use four words to describe how I’ve felt over the last year: Connectedness, Silence, Introspection, and Renewal.

Connectedness

Perhaps ironically, from March 2020 to March 2021 is the year I have felt less alone in the world in my life!

I feel connected to everyone in the world, because we’ve all had to cope with the same fears, restrictions, economic crisis, and illness this pandemic has brought.

The very existence of this pandemic, which originated in a market in a town in china and reached every corner of the world in a few weeks, just goes to show how interconnected we are.

We all breathe the same air, are warmed by the same sun, and our tides are governed by the same moon. We are all unique, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t connected to everything else on our planet and universe.

Silence

At first, during lockdown the silence, especially at night when the curfew meant we were all at home early, was terrifying.

I love silence. In fact, when I write, I often I use my headphones on mute to block everything out and write, but that’s my choice, for a few hours. This silence was different, it was empty; life was missing. And it was distressing, because it wasn’t normal. It was the silence of absence; as if the world had stopped breathing, and it led to a distressing feeling; as something was missing and there was a hole in the world.

Now, after a year we are still on partial lockdown, but the vaccine is being administered and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Silence is no longer frightening, it’s just silence, a friendly, quiet silence. A silence waiting for the storm to pass.

Introversion 

Apart from the pandemic, between March and September 2020, I’ve had challenging months, not related to the pandemic, but worsened by occurring at the same time. I was forced to travel, visit several hospitals, and take care of administrative and household matters in hospitals, shops and government offices, when all I wanted to do was hide at home and wait for the storm to pass.

I wrote little during this time, except some notes and poems, and a few blog posts, but I didn’t have the routines or mindset to revise or continue writing my novels.

However, I did read a lot, especially personal growth and self-help books that have helped me immensely to understand myself and cope with stressful situations. I’m still reading these wonderful books and posting reviews and opinions about them on my blog every Monday on a weekly post called #MondayMotivation. 

Renewal

Fortunately, October brought a relative peace back into my life and I was able to devote my time to my literary pursuits with renewed strength and enthusiasm.

And now that winter is coming to a close, the vaccine is being administered, and the world seems a safer place, we are all longing to get back to our lives, but our ‘new lives’ because at least I am not the same person I was last March. I want more freedom to hug my friends and family and to travel, but I also appreciate everything I have and everyone I love, much more.

I value and feel grateful for my comfortable home, my internet connection for social media, work and enjoyment, the food in my fridge, the clothes I choose to wear, the friends I speak to on the phone every day and the air I breathe.

What are your reflections on this last year?

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Frosty’ #SaturdayThoughts #FlashFiction

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-sty.” Find a word that ends in “-sty” or use the word “sty.” Enjoy!

Frosty

A few words have crossed my mind, such as:

Nasty, but I refuse to let any type of unpleasantness into my life.

Dusty, but I’m not in the mood to think about housework or dirt.

Crusty, I was tempted, but it’s way past my bedtime and I’m not hungry.

Hasty, I’m no longer in a hurry. I’ve been there, done all the rushing around, life is slower now.

Misty, this word brings sad memories. It’s the name of our cat who was run over, and I don’t need sad memories right now.

So, I finally settled on Frosty because I live an hour and a half’s drive from the Mediterranean Sea, where the climate is mild, so frost is a pretty, exotic thing I see very little of, and therefore it has no negative connotations for me. On the contrary, I looked through Pixabay and found some lovely pictures of frost, like this one:

I would love to stay at a log cabin, like the ones you see in films, in distant places like Canada and Alaska, sit by the window and write whatever comes to mind, drinking cups of tea and hot chocolate, by the fireplace, and eating hot soup with crusty bread (maybe I am hungry?).

I’d write a story about a writer who was in search of inspiration. She rented a cabin in the snowy countryside in the Alaskan wild where she found a diary in the bedside table drawer, left behind by a previous occupant who had also come to write a book.

She opened the first page and read:

Once upon a time a writer needed solitude to write her novel, so she rented a cabin and found a diary written by a previous occupant. It started with Once upon a time…

She wrote the first chapter, and then she left.

She returned every year to find her diary in the same place. She wrote a new chapter each year.

(And now I’m going to bed, because it’s one o’clock in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll reread my post and write the end of the story.

Hi! I’m Back. Here’s Part II).

“Good morning, Maggie.”

Maggie turned to the pretty young girl and smiled.

“Where would you like to go today?” the nice girl said, showing her images on a screen. “There’s a beach, the mountains, a thick wood, or …”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

“If you’re sure?” Maggie nodded enthusiastically.

The girl pushed Maggie’s wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on frosty Alaska?”

Maggie’s eyes shone. “I have to finish my novel.”

The young girl caressed Maggie’s wrinkled hand, put on her 3D glasses and said, “Alaska it is.”

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#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Gratitude’ #SaturdayThoughts #StaySafe

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt is “first thing.” Start your post with the words, “first thing” and go from there. Bonus points if you end your post with the last thing. Have fun!

Gratitude

The first thing I do every single morning, just after I turn off my phone alarm, while I’m still lying in bed, eyes closed, aware that a new day has just started, is to say ‘thank you’ to the universe for everything I am and everything a have.

I am alive, healthy, happy, loved, enthusiastic about my day and grateful to be lying in a warm, comfortable bed and feeling positive emotions.

I also have a loving family, a roof over my head, hot water to shower, delicious food to cook and eat, central heating, warm clothes and shoes, and plenty of exciting things to do for the next sixteen hours, until I lie down in my bed, and repeat my gratitude for the wonderful day I will have had, which is the last thing I’ll be doing.

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One of the positive aspects of the pandemic we’re suffering, at least in my case, is the sense of gratitude and appreciation for what I have, knowing that everything related to my physical world is a temporary loan.

I’m making a conscious effort to appreciate what I have, while being more concerned with what I am, which I trust is a more permanent state.

#StaySafe

#SixWordSaturday ‘Who misses shady trees in November?’ #StreamOfConsciousnessSaturday

Who Misses Shady Trees in November?

Passers by sit and chat or rest

On those empty benches,

In summer,

Under the shade of sturdy trees.

Not now.

Today they’re walking on puddles

Under a cloudy sky,

In autumn,

Or sitting indoors, by the fire,

Waiting,

For the sun to shine for a while,

as it might tomorrow,

Or later.

No one misses the shady trees,

At all.

I took both photos last week in Cantabria, Spain.

Check out Six Word Saturday here

Check out Stream of Consciousness Saturday here. Today’s prompt is ‘shade’.

#SoCS #Streamofconsciousness #Saturday Christmas Presents #Haiku

I love this flyer, well it’s a brochure really, with the kid’s mother and grandmother, but where are the men in the family???

Christmas Presents

Flyers everywhere,

Come buy our toys on offer!

Children’s paradise.

It’s the time for toys! Parents, and in my case grandparents, spend hours searching for the perfect Christmas present in flyers and shops, asking children to write letters to Santa and promising he’ll bring the selected presents, of course.

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this pretence, although I’ve mostly played along. I’m no Scrooge!

I know from my children and grandchildren that they love the anticipation and surprise, and when they’re very little, I’d say under 5 or 6, they tend to believe in the fairy tale, and that’s sweet, but, there comes a time when they no longer believe in magic, and yet, both parents/grandparents and children keep up the pretence for a few more years, just because….they can….they both agree to play along….

I’m not sure, even today, as I wrap my grandchildren’s presents (yes, I bought them early on special offer! I have four grandchildren!), how I feel about this. I mean the idea that you ask for something, wait for the set date and get it, or not, on Santa’s whim. What about preparation, effort, and hard work rewarded? Where does that come into the equation?

Although most parents/grandparents threaten to tell Santa if the kids are naughty and don’t deserve a present, but do they do so, or even intend to do so?

Christmas presents for adults are a different story, altogether, but more about that in another post.

Stream of Consciousness rant over.

How do you feel about Christmas presents for children?

By the way, this post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly prompt, pop over to her blog and join in or read other entries. The topic for today is flyer/ad

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Lips’ #FlashFiction

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. Follow the link on the banner for more information

This weeks prompt is“lip” I’m going to write a 100 word flash fiction story, because as soon as I saw the word, an idea flashed into my mind. I’ve been thinking about it and now I’m going to write it. I won’t edit, but I will weed out words to reduce it to 100 max. Sounds like fun, but let’s see how it works out!

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Her Lips

She pursed her lips. Those soft, luscious lips that had caressed every inch of my skin. Only mine.

They sank into a hard, angry line.  Lips that had told me they loved only me.

I willed her lips to move, to show me there was still hope, but they remained rigid, while blood, as red as her lips dripped onto the floor.

I love you, I told her, and at last, those lips that made me lose my mind, twitched slightly, one last time.

She pressed her lips to mine and dug the knife further into the wound. It’s over, she whispered.

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Sorry it was a bit dark, but that’s where her lips took me!

A psychological, tense thriller in 100 words. Does it work?

#SoCS Fabulous Stream of Consciousness #Novels ‘Mrs Dallaway’ & ‘My Name is Lucy Barton’

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. Follow the link on the banner for more information!

This weeks prompt is“fab.” Linda Hill says, “Use it as a word or find a word beginning with “fab.” As always, use any way you’d like. Have fun!”

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I’m going to ramble about two fabulous, stream of consciousness novels.

The first novel is Mrs Dallaway, Virginia Woolf’s unforgettable and inspiring masterpiece, which takes place in one single day in the month of June, in the early 1920s, shortly after the end of WWI.

Mrs Dalloway Virginia Woolf (Wordsworth Classics) (Wordsworth Collection)

Mrs Dallaway (Clarissa) is preparing an important society party while her thoughts come and go in diverse directions and timeframes in erratic flashbacks, as the reader discovers Clarissa’s unhappy marriage, the childhood sweetheart she loved but didn’t marry, her insecurities as a society wife, her bisexual tendency’s, and social issues, such as postwar depression and traumatized war veterans.

It’s a novel without a specific plot, in which nothing ‘important’ happens during the specific day, except the preparation of the party, and yet everything that’s happened in Clarissa’s life passes through her mind in that single day.

The protagonist is struggling unsuccessfully to find meaning in her life.

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Bearing in mind the carefully plotted, character driven, traditional 19th century novels, such as those written by the Bronte sisters, Mary Shelley, or even George Elliot, Mrs Dallaway, represented a significant turning point.

Photograph of Virginia Woolf in 1902; photograph by George Charles Beresford

Virginia Woolf initiated an innovative approach to the novel in the early 20th century. The novel no longer adhered to a strict timeline and tight plot, instead, the narrator could wander wherever his/her mind went.

Now I’m going to jump forward to the 21st century. It’s 2016 and we have another major and innovative Stream of Consciousness novel by Elizabeth Strout, called, My Name is Lucy Barton, which I discussed amply in my blog yesterday.

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This fabulous, stream of consciousness novel, takes Virginia Woolf’s approach even further. On this occasion, there is no plot at all, very little by way of characterisation and a disjointed timeline with erratic flashbacks and forwards, and some unsettling hospital visitors, while Lucy is in a hospital bed, recovering from an unspecfied illness.

Lucy should have read Camus or Sartre, they would have told her that her futile and obsessive search for the meaning of her life, was doomed to bring her distress, because there is none. The only solution for Clarissa and Lucy, and all of us, is to accept the fact that life is absurd, and still find reasons to be happy.

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Life isn’t always fair, random events occur, sometimes bad things happen to good people, and bad people get away with murder. We don’t choose our parents, our country or place of birth, our language or religion, and so many other things which shape our lives, and yet, there are still plenty of things we can choose and change.

I enjoyed reading both novels, but I have no sympathy for either Lucy or Clarissa. I suggest they stop blaming others, i.e. their childhood, parents, nationality, religion, politics, society, etc. for their problems.

It’s up to each one of us to decide what we’re prepared to accept and what we’re prepared to fight to change or rebel against.

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So, do you enjoy reading stream of consciousness, almost experimental, literary novels, which explore a character’s psyche intensely, but have little by means of a traditional plot or timeline?

Stream of Consciousness #Saturday #SoCS ‘Mean Mothers’

This post was written in response to Linda G, Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. This week’s prompt is ‘mean‘. Feel free to join in or read other posts.

Nobody expects an adult woman to complain about having a mean mother. It’s considered too childish or an exaggeration, and yet there some, fortunately not many, women who have toxic mothers, also referred to as narcissistic mothers. I’m one of them.

My name is Lucy and I have a toxic mother.

I feel like an addict owning up to an addiction. I’d been thinking about writing a post about this for a long time, and when I realised that today’s prompt word was ‘mean’, I saw it as a sign to own up once and for all. It’s a first step, and it actually feels great to be able to get it off my chest and share it with readers in cyberspace.

I didn’t realise why my relationship with my mother was so distressing until recently, a couple of years ago, when I started hearing about the topic and investigating in psychology blogs, specialised articles and manuals.

As a child I always felt guilty about being the cause of my mother’s anger and disdain. I wasn’t clever enough, pretty enough, or good enough at anything. She never liked my friends and she especially never liked my boyfriends.

She tried to convince me I was bad to the core, from birth, because when I was born I looked at her with ‘evil eyes’ and she knew I would cause her problems.

When she was feeling especially mean, she would tell me she was convinced I had been changed at the hospital and that someone like me couldn’t be her daughter.

I would never be worthy of her love and kindness, so she refused to love me unless, and for a short time, I was completely compliant to all her requirements, be it the clothes I wore, the friends I had, the food I ate, the places I went to etc., well into my adult life.

When other people are present, there are two possible scenarios. In the first, she makes an effort to point out my good points, because she’s responsible for all my achievements, as if I’m a trophy, which is why only those who know her well (and many do, eventually) can see it’s an act. In the second, she humiliates me pointing out my failures and lack of achievements, because I didn’t follow her advice.

She constantly reminds me that if she hadn’t been my mother I’d be a useless wimp, or in the second case, that’s what I am because I don’t pander to her demands.

I left home when I was 17 to work as an au pair in France and then left for College when I was 18. After College I moved to Spain. I’m 59, so I haven’t lived under my mother’s roof for 42 years, but that doesn’t stop her being mean, by phone, when she visits me, or when I visit her.

Her latest (last week, when I visited her) meanness: you’re a wimp, you’re too fat, your hair’s a mess, you’re useless, I always have to clean up after you, your work isn’t important, you didn’t bring up your children well enough, your husband is worthless, and of course, she hates my novels: ‘How can you write those awful things’, she says. My character also has terrible flaws, I’m ungrateful, selfish, argumentative and insolent, because I don’t let her rule my life.  

Toxic / narcissistic mothers have two types of husbands, the enabling type, who simply pander to their narcissistic needs by supporting them at all costs, in spite of their cruelty to their children, or the missing husband, the one who leaves and never looks back. My father was the latter.

I’ve never known how I should react to this continuous, mental abuse, because as I said, I wasn’t aware, although I did suspect something wasn’t right, my mother had a psychological condition. When I was a child, I would argue as infrequently as possible, to keep the peace, and I continued doing so for most of my adult life. Most interactions with her leave me feeling emotionally drained, worthless and guilty.

Now I know much more about this personality disorder, I am aware, because the experts seem to agree on this, that it’s incurable. There’s no magic pill or therapy to change a toxic mother’s attitude towards her daughter (and although I haven’t gone into this aspect, in my mother’s and many cases, the rest of the world).

There’s only one solution for the daughter: to keep contact to a minimum and refuse to be drawn into any type of argument, which will only feed the toxic mother’s ego and give her an excuse to lash out abusively, thereby still maintaining the power to upset, humiliate, and make her daughter feel guilty.

I really miss not having had an affectionate and understanding mother, someone I could talk to, ask for advice, or simply chat with, without feeling upset and humiliated.

I’m a teacher and I’m very grateful to my own teachers for the encouragement I received, especially as a child and a teenager. I believe in the power of education to improve our lives by giving us access to knowledge and opportunities.

As a teacher and a mother I’ve always believed in the benefits of positive thinking, and I make an effort to increase my students’, children and grandchildren’s self-esteem and confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Ironically, I have my mother, partly, to thank for this, because I have always been determined not to be like her in any way, so without realising it, she made me the better person.

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This Stream of Consciousness post was easy to write, because it’s been on my mind for a long time, but it was hard to make the decision of sharing such a personal experience publicly. I’ve decided to post it to purge myself and also in the hope that it may help other daughters, of any age, who are coping with difficult relationships with their mothers.

I’m not an expert and this is a vast topic. I’ve simply shared a small fraction of my personal experience. There’s plenty of information on the web if you search for the terms toxic or narcissistic mother, father or parents. It can also affect sons and other close relatives.

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Feel free to share suggestions, advice, opinions, knowledge, or personal experience in the comments.