Everyday insights

Gripped by anxiety,

a looming hospital appointment,

I failed to notice the world outside

where the blackbird continued to sit on her nest in the rain,

and despite my unawareness

the symphony of spring carried on.

Then suddenly, I realized.

Anxiety again.

Welcome.

I don’t have to fight you any more

I just have to relax.

We are not separate,

you are not something to be held at bay

by techniques and force of mind.

You are a response to a situation,

my response.

Forgive me.

You have always been the frightened child

I pushed away.

Now you are welcome to rest here

until we both feel safe again.

A queen bee stopped on a flower, unnoticed,

unmoved by my revelation

as I wiped away a tear,

but I will remember.

Peace is always waiting

A rushing kind of a day

Deep within the demands of work

Deadlines loom

So I concentrate

Focus

Get things done

And forget myself

Now it’s evening and

I peel myself away from the TV

Put on some music

Slow down into

Familiar movements

An hour later

I re-emerge

Relaxed

Refreshed

Calm

Reawoken to the truth

That if I slow down

Underneath the rush

Below the fear, the fuss, the resistance

Peace is always waiting

Imagination

A blessing and a curse

this vivid imagination

conjuring up so many pleasant daydream worlds,

and paintings, stories, poems, music.

Allowing me to put myself in another’s shoes,

to empathise.

Enabling me to imagine the worse possible catastrophic outcome

for any situation I find myself in.

My body doesn’t know

that the stories in my head are not real,

and responds with pleasure, excitement, fear, dread, anxiety,

feeling it all, deeply.

And it takes a strong rational act of will to calm down,

to find a way back into the here and now.

Leaving the world of the imagination is not easy.

A blessing, and a curse.

Monkey Mind

‘I think’

said the monkey mind

‘that I think too much’.

And she scampers off busily

up thought trees tangled

with stories.

Narratives twisting towards the light

thrusting up strange blooms,

every shade of the emotional rainbow.

Curious to know more,

the monkey scampers on.

Always restless,

the voice chattering away

in the jungle of my mind.

Does that monkey ever sleep?

Lighten Up

Those small things that you deny yourself,

The movie, or book,

Night out with friends,

Or bunch of flowers

That you think you don’t deserve.

Leading on to more denial,

The kind words you would bestow on a stranger

But wouldn’t consider saying to yourself,

Preferring instead the harshness

Of an inner critic

The chances not taken

By the likes of you,

Missed opportunities,

Paths left unwalked,

A life half lived.

You can’t deny

You need to lighten up.

Be kind to yourself and

Open up

To the joy in this world.

A message to my younger self

Driving to work

Past fields and hedges and trees without leaves,

The distant fells of the Lake District,

A milky opalescent dawn sky,

And I feel so happy

And I think, if I could send a message

To my younger self

I would say

‘Relax

I know things don’t feel easy.

But it will all work out in the end.

Take it one step at a time, don’t worry so much.

Life still has its ups and downs,

But the view from here is worth it.’

Open Plan Office Blues

When you open the office door in the morning to be greeted by beige and grey,

Dry warm air and the smell of computers

And yesterday’s lunches

And your heart sinks, shrivels and goes into hiding.

When your desk and the space around you is the smallest size it could legally be,

When you have no choice of whether or not you can sit by the window

And anyway the window might not even open,

And the view, if you have one, is the side of another office, or a road, or a block of flats.

When your senses are assaulted by the sound of phonecalls and the tapping of keyboards

And you feel yourself shrinking, contracting, trying block it all out,

And you wonder why you can’t concentrate,

And your mind runs around on the same old wheels, dreaming of a way out.

When others around you are beavering away

Seemingly oblivious to the distractions and ugliness,

And you wonder what is wrong with you and why you don’t fit in

And how on earth you can cope with this for another 30 years.

When you sit in a room with 50 people, but barely have a conversation for fear of creating too much noise,

And you feel trapped in a cage,

And you think you must be too sensitive, not good enough, not trying hard enough,

Just remember, escape is possible.

You’ve got the open plan office blues.

(Yes, I’ve been there, and yes, I did escape!)