#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘5 Steps to Writing a Poem’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Poetry #ThursdayMotivation

Today’s just one of those days…

The Moon's hiding
In night's black cave,
The darkest hour,
Seconds before 
You surrender,
The moment when
Hope has devoured
Your weary dreams,
Open your eyes,
Look up to sky,
The cloud has passed,
The moon is always there,
However dark the night.
@LucciaGray

Being almost 62, I’ve had a few dark days and the advantages of having so much experience is that I have some strategies to overcome some of those bleak moments we all have, now and again, sometimes for a reason, but often for none at all.

Here’s what I do. I have my WAM, or water and music therapy, described in this post, where I remind myself that I’m invincible. Other times I give in to my melancholy and write a poem. I love writing poems, and it comes fairly easily, but a proper poem to show the world takes at least two hours, plus sometimes I just leave it to rest in my mind and come back later or another day to revise or finish.

5 Steps to writing a poem when you’re feeling blue.

This is what works for me. You need pen and paper or your journal, that’s it. Optional: music, favourite poems, films etc.

First I just freewrite, stream-of-consciousness style. I get it all off my chest, but I put a time and length limit (I don’t want to (over)wallow in my misery), of about ten minutes or one page in my notebook or sheet of paper. This is really helpful, because it helps me understand how I’m feeling. That in itself will make you feel much better, but let’s continue.

Secondly, I look at the words and expressions I’ve used. In this case I had darkest hour, dark night, no hope, pitch black, dark cave, loss, sentences such as ‘the darkest moment is just before dawn’ came to mind, etc. . On another, clean page, write the main words or short phrases, taken from what you’ve written, each on a separate line. At this point You can think of song lyrics and poems or even film or book titles that align with your feelings and add the lines or words, or any other words and short phrases which come to mind.

Thirdly. Congratulations, your poem is there, but now you have to give your words a rhythm. I like to work with syllables, which is why I love haikus 5-7-5 or tankas 5-7-5-7-7. It’s simple, and it works. Order your words into the syllables and lines. You should be able to come up with a few short poems. You don’t need to use all the words, you wrote, just a few to highlight your feelings, and you can add synonyms for rhyming purposes.

Fourthly, Great! We’re nearly there. I play around with syllables and sounds, this time I’m paying closer attention to the meaning or feelings I wish to transmit. Here I often change the syllables and rhythm to suit my words and feelings. Today’s poem above is not a haiku or tanka, it’s mostly four syllable lines, except the last two which have six syllables.

This is how my poem started off this morning,

Finally, because fifthly sounds funny, you need a new sheet of paper and write out your rough version or versions, you may have more than one. You add the final touches and if you’re happy, type it out and show it to the world, and if it doesn’t sound quite right and your inspiration is in tatters, put it in a drawer and come back later to finish.

Whatever you’ve written, I bet you feel better already. I always do! And, of course, I don’t publish them all. Some never get properly polished, they’re just for me and my journal.

Do you write poems when you’re feeling blue?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#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.

****

 

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.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Invincible’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Haiku #ThursdayMotivation

Today I needed a WAM Morning, that is my Water And Music therapy. Step 1: I get up and jump into the shower while my favourite motivating song/s of the moment are playing, loud enough to block out my terrible singing!

The songs vary depending on my mood. Today it was The Champion sung by Carrie Underwood on replay, and by the time I went downstairs for Step 2: my first cup of tea, I already felt energised. I did 7 minutes of quick exercises, stretches and breathing while the water boiled, as usual. Step 3: I then carried my tea into my study and write my morning pages in my journal, again as usual.

I don’t follow any set rules for my morning pages; I freewrite whatever I need to say to myself or get off my chest, or what I’ve dreamed of, or what I’m worried or happy about, for no longer than ten minutes. I have a busy day ahead, so there’s no point in wasting more time than is strictly necessary on brooding or daydreaming.

And now I’m ready for Step 4: to face the day with a big smile on my face!

What do you do to bring a smile to your face on a challenging morning?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

 

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘The Sun Will Rise’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Haiku #ThursdayMotivation

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise.  Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, 1862. 

After darkest night

Sun will rise on horizon

Bringing light and warmth 

****

We cannot avoid dark nights, there will be one every day, as surely as the sun will rise. As the sun sets, the night gradually darkens until ‘the darkest moment is just before dawn’.

Black night will descend,

Dawn will break darkest moment,

Hope will rise like sun.

We cannot avoid loss, any more than we can avoid the night, but we can be comforted with the fact that daylight will always follow.  

Avoiding loss means avoiding love. If we do not love we will not mourn any loss, but it would be a loveless life.

Some philosophers like Heidegger suggest that as our being is finite, then an authentic human life can only be found by confronting our mortality and trying to make a meaning out of the fact of death. In this case, the acceptance of our mortal limitation is the basis for an affirmation of our life.  

And while we carry our pain like a backpack full of bricks, we must make a conscious effort to gradually lighten our load and live each moment mindfully, not only to be alive.

Advice and suggestions for coping with loss here in my post on ‘6 Ways to recover from grief.’ 

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#MondayBlogs ‘6 Ways to Recover from Grief: A Letter to Myself’ #MondayMotivation

When I was in the midst of grieving the loss of a loved one, it was like being in a dark tunnel. I felt alone, lost, and I had no idea how to get out of the darkness and devastation. I think this sense of desperation, loss and confusion at losing your bearings, was not a unique experience; many others I’ve spoken to have felt much the same.

My sister died over thirty years ago, and although other family members, such as aunts, uncles, cousins, and my father, have died since then, my sister’s death was the most devastating loss I’ve had to date.

It was 1989, the Internet was in its early years, so information was not as easily and readily available. I had no counselling, and no type of bereavement support. I read How We Die, which was helpful from a practical, medical and rational point of view, but not emotionally, at least not for me.

I was bought up a catholic, but the doctrines of the established church, which I am well aware of, did not help, although I picked up the Bible a few times, but could not find any consolation.

My depression lasted ten months, and I got through it if I was walking across a dessert, putting one foot in front of the other and trying my best to cover my head from the burning sun. No pills, no therapy, and no closure. I was working as a teacher and looking after my three children, who were under 4, until one day, ten months after the tragedy, I woke up and bought new clothes, and my mood started to improve.

I have no idea why or how this happened, but I can clearly identify the moment the love I felt when I thought of my sister was greater than the pain I felt for her loss. I was finally walking towards the light and away from the dark tunnel.

I imagined my sister’s voice saying, “You look dreadful. You need to go shopping” and it was true. I hadn’t bought any clothes in over a year and I had lost weight, so I can’t have looked very pretty. I hadn’t gone to the hairdresser’s either. I wore a pony tail every day and stopped wearing make up. This was not a conscious decision, I just didn’t care about how I looked, until suddenly it started mattering.

It’s not the anniversary of my sister’s birth or death, in fact, there is nothing to remind me of it, although she is always in my heart and on my mind. I write her letters sometimes, and think of her with love and melancholy, not sadness, every day. In fact, her photograph is on my desk in my study and I smile every time I see it.

The reason I’m thinking about death today is because it has struck very near home. Covid-19 has claimed the life of my neighbour of twenty-five years and a doctor, and my best friend’s father both in the same month, and their family’s devastation has reminded me of the inevitable pain they must endure in order for their memories to be full of love instead of sorrow.

Giving advice on personal matters is a minefield, you can help or lose a friend, so when I was approached for advice, I decided to be thorough and look carefully at my own pain and process of recovery.

Looking back, I believe there was little I could have done to improve or speed up the process, because we all have to walk through our own tunnel in order to reach the other side. Some of us will take a longer time, or may need the help of medication or therapy or both, but as I have learnt many years later, we all have to go through the stages of grief.

The advice I never received

As far as I remember nobody gave me helpful advice and I had no-one to turn to. My mother was in an even worse state then I was, and the adults around me were either unequipped or unable to offer advice, other than an attempt at a comforting sentence or two, which is nice to hear, but has no lasting effect on lessening the pain.

So, this is the advice I think might have helped me to feel less alone and distressed. It’s like a letter to myself and I’d like to share it with you.

6 Ways to Recover from Grief: Letter to Myself 

1: Acknowledge the Pain

Firstly acknowledge the pain, you have lost someone you loved. Your sadness is a natural reaction to your loss, and although your pain is unique to you, you are not alone. Go through the rituals you have chosen according to your customs, ideas or religion, accept the condolences, pray, cry, express your pain in your own way.

2: Be Aware of What Grieving Involves

Secondly, I wish I had known about the five stages of grief at the time, a wonderful book I read at a later date.

in 1969, a Swiss-American psychiatrist named Elizabeth Kübler-Ross wrote On Death and Dying and On Grief and Grieving based on observations from years of working with terminally ill patients. She put forward the five stages of grief which became known as the Kübler-Ross model.

  • denial.
  • anger.
  • bargaining.
  • depression.
  • acceptance.

They may not always be experienced in the same order, and they may overlap, and some may take longer than others, but know that you will experience these feelings, and you are not alone in the process. If you don’t feel up to reading a book, you can read articles which summarise her theories or watch YouTube videos. Here are some excellent links. but a google search will also be helpful.

Finding Meaning:The Sixth Stage of Grief is on my TBR list. It was written in 2020 by David Kessler, coauthor of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’s original book.

Knowing what is happening and that is a process which has happened and will happen in a similar way to everyone who loses a loved one, will lead to an understanding which could help us move forward and accept.

3: Writing letters and Journaling

Thirdly, although I have always enjoyed writing, poems, stories and thoughts, thirty years ago I had not yet understood the power of journaling. So, I wish I’d written a journal dedicated to my sister, like a scrapbook, including photographs, letters, memories. This is something I could still do, and may do. I could gather the letters Ive written, add photos and thoughts, letters and postcards she wrote to me, too.

If you are not used to journaling or would like more ideas, this article on grief journaling could be helpful there are books like Understanding your grief journal which could also help.

The Understanding Your Grief Journal: Exploring the Ten Essential Touchstones de [Alan D. Wolfelt]

Letters are another powerful tool which could be included in your journal they can be to your loved one, or a letter you imagine he or she would write to you.

4: Meditation and Spiritual Guides

If you are part of a supportive religious community, you won’t need to think about this, but of your religious beliefs aren’t helping or you need more spiritual support I’d recommend in the first place meditation, I have two favourite books on this topic, plus there are apps for your mobile which are also very useful.

Any book by Deepak Chopra will be enlightening, especially his book on Total Meditation, which is one of the ones discussed on this blog post.

Books like Heal Your Grieving Soul: 100 Practices for Mourners  can be helpful as it contains one hundred short activities to think about based on meditation, prayer, yoga, breathing exercises, etc are described and proposed.

Five:  Go for a Walk and take photographs

If you already have a favourite exercise, such as cycling, or if you practice a sport, don’t stop because your grieving. You may need to force yourself, but you have to do it because the serotonin you’ll secrete will help you handle your depression.

If you don’t exercise regularly, go for a walk, preferably anywhere in nature, a park, the countryside, and I’d recommend you take photos, because if you plan to take, say, five photos, you will be looking for nice things to photograph. This means you will be actively looking and thinking about your environment which is outside, instead of your pain, which is inside.

6. Humour and Not Moving On, Moving Forward.

This Ted Talk will make you cry and make you laugh. In a talk that’s by turns heartbreaking and hilarious, writer and podcaster Nora McInerny shares her hard-earned wisdom about life and death.  She encourages us to shift how we approach grief. “A grieving person is going to laugh again and smile again,” she says. “They’re going to move forward. But that doesn’t mean that they’ve moved on.”

Unfortunately, as Nora reminds us, “Everyone we love has 100% chance of Dying” and so do we, and yet it’s probably the most heart-wrenching pain we’ll have to endure, and there’s no pill or magic wand to make it disappear. We have to go through the stages, walk through the grief, and move forward until the love we feel when we remember is greater than the pain we feel for the loss.  

To conclude my letter to myself and anyone who has or will suffer the loss of a loved one, reading and writing is the answer. Understanding our pain and what is happening by reading and expressing our loss in a coherent way by writing journals, letters, poems, or blog posts.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

 

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Butterfly Effect’ #March2021 @Pixabay

Don’t worry, I’m not going to introduce you to Edward Lorenz’s hypothesis, presented at the New York Academy of Science, in which he states that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings could set in motion a movement of air which could eventually lead to a hurricane on the other side of our planet. There are arguments for and against this theory, but I don’t have the scientific knowledge to enter into a discussion on the subject.

I’m going to write about the importance of apparently little things which can have a tremendous impact on our lives.

Small, often improvised decisions or sheer luck, can have long-lasting positive or negative effects on our lives and the lives of the people we interact with, regardless of whether we are aware of the consequences. In fact, we may never know how our words or actions changed the course of someone’s life.

Chance meetings

How many of you met the person you are currently living with by chance? If I hadn’t visited a friend of a friend on a specific day, I would never have met my husband. By the way, I never saw her again, so she doesn’t know! Many friends have mentioned similar experiences. Job opportunities, finding the right house, etc. are often the result of a chance encounter.

Minor Changes to Our Routines

I recently reviewed ‘Feel Better in Five’ and ‘Atomic Habits’, two books about how minor changes to our routines can make a tremendous impact on our lives.

For example, imagine never brushing your teeth, and now imagine doing so three times a day for 2 minutes, and what a great impact that makes on your oral health.

Five or ten minutes of exercise, or meditation, or journaling will improve our wellbeing enormously.

Happy Moments

What about your happy moments? Some of your happiest moments were life-changing events, such as a birth, a wedding or an official ceremony. These moments are few and far between.

Most of our happy moments are smaller, often intimate events such as a photograph you took, a letter you received or sent, a coffee with a friend, a text message, a phone call, a kiss, a hug, words of encouragement from a friend or a stranger. Our lives are full of a multitude of small moments, which make us happy.

The older I get, the more important little things become, because every day is made up of moments and I’m determined to make each one special.

It’s a bit like the saying, ‘Take care of the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.’ So, ‘Take care of the moments and the days will take care of themselves.’

I looked up the quote, just in case, and as I had supposed, someone else said something very similar, first!

In this case, anglo-Irish, 18th century writer,  Maria Edgeworth said: If we take care of the moments, the years will take care of themselves.

****
Do you practice any small actions which impact your life?

Has a chance encounter or event changed the course of your life?

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

#ThursdayPhotoThoughts ‘Still Winter, Soon Spring, Welcome March!’ #March2021 @Pixabay #Tanka

Still winter, soon spring,

Birds build nests, trees start to bloom,

Stormy, windy March,

Go you! Leave winter behind,

New year, new life, rebirth, hope.

****

I discovered this fabulous webpage full of wonderful poems to March by nineteenth and twentieth-century poets which you might like to read, while you listen to birds chirping!

I’ve noticed the sound and smell of spring during my daily walks. Birds are merrier and plants are blooming, the air smells fresher and sweeter and the sounds are more cheerful.

I look forward to spring every year, but this year, especially I’m looking forward to moving away from the confinement and fear of  this winter, or should I say last winter?

I was surprised to hear on the news that there are two spring dates, an astronomical or traditional one from 21st of December to 21st March and a meteorological one, which uses whole months, so winter is December to February and spring March to May, and so on for the other seasons.

Apparently, meteorologists think it’s more sensible for record keeping purposes. I can see it would work from a practical point of view too. It may give us a sense of a more logical order if the seasons are defined by whole months, but I’m a fan of astrology and the astrological calendar.

That doesn’t mean to say I’m superstitious, on the contrary, it’s because I believe there is order not irrationality in the cosmos. The universe is like a giant clock where everything ticks perfectly, thanks to its marvellous machinery.

According to the astrological calendar, winter is based on the position of the Earth in its orbit around the Sun, regardless of weather conditions. I feel more appreciation for these considerations, because it reminds me that I’m part of something greater than myself and the planet where I happen to live at the moment.

More about this debate in this article.

All pictures from pixabay and all thoughts my own, although I’m sure someone has already expressed some of them.

How do you feel about March, is it a winter month or a spring month?

****

Image by ejausburg on Pixabay

Pixabay is a wonderful site where many generous amateur and professional photographers offer their photos at no cost (there are also photos you have to pay for). And Thursday, which is in the exact middle of the week is an ideal day to stop and reflect, so I’m grabbing one or more pictures and reflecting on whatever comes to mind. I’m not planning on stream-of-consciousness, because although it’s an unplanned post based on a random picture, I’ll edit my thoughts and words, because you’re worth it! I want you to read a pretty and polished post:)

February Full Moon #Blogging Goals Update 2021 #Blogger #amblogging #MondayBlogs #MondayMotivation

The second full moon of 2021 was two days ago, the 27th of February, it’s called snow moon, and it still looked full last night when I wrote this post.

On the last full moon, in January, I told you about my blogging goals for the next six months, so here’s my monthly update.

I did a great deal of planning in January, regarding all my goals, which I divided into five categories: mind, body, soul, career and hobbies, for the first half of the year.

I’ve never been so disciplined before, but I had the feeling that since I retired in September 2019, although I had a lot more time, I wasn’t using it as productively as I’d like.

Unfortunately, 2020 was a tough year until September, so all my plans went literally down the drain. Covid-19 was only partly to blame. There were family and health issues with my mother, my daughters and my husband that had to be addressed, and are now fortunately, if not completely resolved, at least much improved.

So, although I started plotting and planning my goals in September 2020 in a desperate bid to take control of my life, the process culminated in January 2021 when I chose my three words for the year which are: Believe, Routine and Gratitude. 

Because I agree with Hal Elrod’s equation in The Morning Miracle for Writers that Unwavering Faith, or belief in myself and my projects, and Extraordinary Effort, by means of a strict routine, will lead to Miracles, or in earthly terms, reaching my goals.

I had already started reading books on personal growth and time management, many of which I’ve shared on my blog. As a result of some much needed introspection about what I wanted the rest of my life to look like, I decided to take the following actions:

1- Design a unique morning and evening routine that works for me (I designed it in January and I’ve been doing it regularly during February).

2- Keep a record of everything I do in one notebook, including my ‘done list’ and my ‘to do list’ (I’ve been doing this for some time, but I’ve perfected the strategy in February).

3- Establish and keep to a blogging and writing routine (I started following it as strictly as possible, this month).

4- Write out my goals for 2021, including identifying my ‘whys’, ‘strategies’ and ‘timelines’. I wanted to make sure I was doing at least one little thing every day towards my goals (I did this in September, although there were some minor updates in January).

To keep track of my goals and hold myself accountable, I use:

A Vision Book, which is an A4 sized plastic folder including my routines, goals, affirmations, monthly calendars and other important or motivating pictures, quotes, poems, and pages.

A Daily Journal, which is a simple 9×6 inch, soft-bound, spiral, lined notebook, which is by my side all day. It has my done and to do list, and any notes I make during the day, poems, ideas, etc.

My Morning and Evening and Gratitude Journal. I have a larger, 12-inch notebook for this as I only use it twice a day and I don’t carry it around.

My Monthly Calendar pages for overall planning. These go in my vision book.

Here’s a video by Marisa Peer about vision boards and journaling which can give you some ideas on how to use them.

So, for my monthly update on my goals:

Career: So far I’ve kept to my planned Blogging Schedule.

I’m a week behind my writing schedule because I started using word365, which caused havoc with my previous word documents, but I think I’ve managed to get the hang of it!

Mind: I’ve read  8-10 books this month, including personal growth and fiction, and I’ve also watched experts on life and health on YouTube channels. I’ve been improving my German with audio courses, short stories and a great YouTube channel Easy German.

Body: I’ve kept to a healthy diet, walked an average of 5kms a day, plus my morning exercise routine and some indoor biking, and ping pong, too.

Soul: I’ve kept my gratitude diary, recited my affirmations, I’ve been meditating regularly, still for short periods, but I’m getting there.

Hobbies: I’ve taken plenty of photos, gone for walks in the countryside, cooked some new dishes, and I’ve kept in touch with friends online.

Overall, February has been a busy and productive month and I feel that following my planned routines, has increased my self-esteem and belief in myself, and daily gratitude journaling is helping me stay motivated and on track to reach my goals.

How are your goals coming along?

Do you plan them out months or weeks ahead? 

Let me know in the comments!

#SundayWalks Last Day of #February #Haiku ‘7 things that happened in February 2021’

Spring is in the air,

Last day of February,

Reasons to rejoice! 

Seven things that happened in February 

Lots of things happened in February, but here are seven I’d like to share with you!  

  1. My mother, 92, and my daughter, who is a teacher, were vaccinated to prevent covid-19. 
  2. My youngest daughter married in Munich. We couldn’t be there, so we’ll have to leave the celebrations for later.

3. I’ve followed the morning routine I designed in January and it’s worked well for me. 

4. I’ve followed the blogging schedule I planned and I’ve posted every day.  

5. I’ve completed my second edit for Blood Moon and the second edit of the edition of All Hallows at Eyre Hall. 

6. I’ve walked 125 kilometers in 30 hours which amounts to 8000 calories (I think that’s equivalent to almost a kilo!), which is an average of almost an hour, five kilometers a day.  

7. I had a much needed hair trim!

And one more for February, just because it’s been a very productive month!

8. I’ve signed a contract to self-publish my novel with a Spanish author platform/publisher who is endorsed by/affiliate to Penguin-Random House Spain. (I may not have told you, but I also write in Spanish with another pen name, but I’ll tell you about that in another post).

These photos were taken this morning in ‘Las Jaras’ a reservoir in the mountains a few kilometers from my house in Cordoba, Spain. 

How was your February?