Sunday, January 27, 2013

Little Things Do Make a Difference:

Recently I was on a trip to Jamaica where I met up with friends from previous trips.  Returning to see friends you have not seen in a while is one of the great pleasures in life.  There were stories and meals and enjoyable company to share.  All of it was really quite wonderful.
But it was a little thing that made the memory of this trip extra special.  Such a little thing but it made a huge impact.  Looking back I wonder why such a little thing could have such importance.  And yet it is the thing that I remember most about a fabulous time in the company of good friends.
It was the hugs!
A hug is a handshake from the heart. ~Author Unknown

Every time I met a friend we would hug. We were sharing a rejoicing at seeing each other again.  It was a celebration of we are here together.  We have another opportunity to enjoy each other’s company. It set the stage for conversation and laughter.  It made my heart and spirit smile, not just my face.  I felt like a light had been lit in my soul.  Every day there were dozens of hugs. I felt such gratitude and joy to have such wonderful friends.

A hug costs nothing.  And yet it can bring such joy. 

A hug is a great gift - one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange. ~Author Unknown

Think of who needs a hug in your life and make sure you give them a hug right now if possible, or make a point to visit them really soon.  You never know, you may be giving them the most valuable gift ever.  You are letting them know that they are special to you.  You are letting them know that you care.  You are letting them know that in this crazy topsy turvy world of disputes and arguments, right now, at this moment, none of that matters and the only thing that is important is sharing a gesture of kindness and caring and generosity.

What a marvelous gift!

Hugging has no unpleasant side effects and is all natural. There are no batteries to replace, it's inflation-proof and non-fattening with no monthly payments. It's non-taxable, non-polluting, and is, of course, fully refundable. ~Author Unknown

Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 - 27

                ©  Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello

©  My journal blog entries and pictures are copyright
You may quote and share if you contact me and ask for permission
Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Challenges and First Steps

The journey to healing after emotional trauma is a strange and complicated trip.  There are so many emotions to be dealt with.  There is understanding and accepting.  There is pain and sorrow.  There is the suffering of healing.  There is anger and moments of hatred.  And there is also the apprehension and fear of the unknown, the question of “what now”?

I have faced this journey sometimes with bravery facing each emotion head on and letting it sink deep into my psyche.  Other times with cowardice, hiding in fear from the raw emotions that would batter and toss my soul on stormy seas.

Each time I have learnt something.  Sometimes, something about myself, and other times, I have learnt about the driving forces of society or those people beyond my control.  I have learnt to be more tolerant of failings and shortcoming, my own as well as those of others.

I have learnt that it is possible to look at all the broken pieces in one’s life, examine each piece, struggle with learning the lesson and then find a new home for that shard somewhere safe, to be picked up again later.

There were days when I struggled through the examination like a warrior in battle, fighting on in desperation.  There were days when I scratched and clawed with bloody raw emotions at the walls of emotions that encased me like a prisoner in their clutches.  And then there were days when I would cower in fear in the darkest depths of lonely caverns, covering my eyes and hiding from the truths I must eventually face.

But every day, step by step I creep closer to the end goal, being once again able to pick up all the broken shards of what was and reassemble them into the vessel of what will be.  In coming to understand and accept all that has happened, I have gained the tools and the skills to move forward.  I see the next step before me, the next challenge to be faced.

In rebuilding who I am, I must differentiate between the roles I have played in life and who this person is that I call “me”.  I am not the mother, the nurturer, the caretaker.  Those were my duties and responsibilities that came with the job.  And yet I am faced with a blank slate once again.  Who am I?

It has been so long since I have asked myself that question.  I can easily explain what I do, what I like, what I aspire toward.  But when I face the question “who am I”; I have no answers.  I face the unknown as surely as a new born baby faces learning about the brave new world he finds himself in.

I am more than the things I have done, the things I am doing or the things I plan to do in the future.  The challenge is to find out what that something is.  That is the ingredient that will define the colour and landscape of my future.  The act of being is as important as the acts of doing. 

As a person who has always faced the challenges of what needs to be done and doing it, I need to learn this new to me lesson; who am I, and even more importantly I need to come to realize that I have value beyond what I can do for others.  

And therein lies the crux of my dilemma, so much of who I am is tied up in what I do for others.  Isolating who I am, separate from what I do is a substantial challenge.  Realizing how important this different path will be in my journey of personal growth is the first step of this new adventure.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 – 22

   Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello

©  My journal blog entries and pictures are copyright
You may quote and share if you contact me and ask for permission
Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

Filling the Blank Slate

Dedicated to Peter King  with thanks and gratitude!

Sometimes an event occurs in your life that makes you sit back and reevaluate your perspective.  I had such an event happen today.  It was in the form of a message from a stranger who took the time to comment on some of my reflections.  This person, though experiencing his own challenges in life, reached out and sent me a message and I want to thank him and let him know I heard it!

I have been working on moving forward but always with one foot in the past.  I have been working on recovering inner peace, but always with an eye on the triggering event that changed the course of my life.  I have been going through the motions of making changes but always with the hope that maybe things could be healed and go back to the way they were.

Today, I was reminded in a most dramatic way that there is no going back.  There is no undoing.  There is no rewind.  You can not affect the story of the past.  Every step that has brought me to this point is a completed chapter.  I can re-read it but I cannot change it. 

The only direction that I have any control over is where I choose to face today. I can only chart a course for a future that I am committed to embracing wholeheartedly.  And there my responsibility ends.  I have no mystical power to change anyone else’s heart just by wistful dreaming. 

The most positive impact I can have on my life is in the form of my own inner development.  How I create my character, and chose to define myself after walking through the fires of life is an act of courage, defiance and ultimately is empowering.

A future crossing of paths with people from my past may or may not be an option.  In accepting who I am, even while in the process of refining those qualities I most aspire to, I will be taking steps to becoming the best possible me.  That is the only person I have the power to chart a course for.  That is the person that will face the future courageously regardless of the obstacles and challenges placed before me.

The actions I take may not change but the focus will.  Instead of using activity as a means to run away from facing what has been lost, I can start to embrace my adventures as something to fill my life with and have twice the fun!  FROM TODAY I AM GOING TO LIVE LIFE TO THE FULL, FOR MYSELF AND FOR PETER .

Renate Dundys Marrello

2013 – 01 - 19

   Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
     My journal entries and picture are copyright
     You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
     Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

It is in the Air

It is interesting to think of air, we breathe it most of the time without thinking about it.  We smell the air born scents and acknowledge those.  But how often do we just stop and enjoy the process of breathing. 

I find myself doing just that when in a place of poignant beauty.  See a beautiful coastline and then just stand there inhaling and exhaling.

Inhaling all the wonder and the beauty, exhaling all the turbulent emotions and releasing their energy.

I sometimes wish I could just stay there and luxuriate in the almost spiritual moment of breathing.  It is at a moment like this that I feel in tune with the universe.  I can almost grasp the meaning of it all.  That elusive something that makes life so fascinating.  Here away from all the daily strife and conflict, away from the intrusion of news events and controversy; that I can touch the essence of what life is all about. 

At moment like this I wonder if we have crowded our lives with too many things and events that don’t contribute to our well-being?  Do we need to strip our lives down to the most elementary to appreciate the bounty that is truly available to us?   Is it possible to live in a modern world filled with consumer goods and the need to possess to be in touch with the nature of life…breathing in and breathing out?

I breathe in and I breathe out and I strip away another layer of being connected to material things.  Things are nice, and some of them are a comfort or to protect us from the elements etc.  But when things become more important that the appreciation of what is actually there; then we lose touch with nature. 

Accumulating things becomes more important that accumulating experiences.  Accumulation of things leads to envy of those who have more.  Accumulation of things leads to power struggles over who deserves the right to have more things.  Whereas all beings are equal in the enjoyment of nature's bounty.  Or even more importantly, in this perspective the richest person it he who can perceive and be aware of the most beauty! 

Wealth would be measured in the experiencing of beauty and the poor would be those who stood before a majestic landscape and perceived nothing.  What a different world it would be if we were driven by a desire to experience more beauty instead of the need to accumulate more stuff.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 - 15

    Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
        My journal entries and picture are copyright
        You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
       Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.


Blank Slate Exercise

Letting go of past events, hurts, mistakes and errors in judgment is such good advice and yet it takes a great deal of will power and elapsed time, to actually do so. In my own personal journey I think I may finally be at that stage where I can visualize an empty screen. The old motion picture has ended, all the credits have run and now there is only a blank screen until I insert the new disc and press the start button.

But how does one make the new picture a better quality show than the last one? This is where the work now begins. I am the producer of this new epic and I have to be careful about how I address the issues in this show.
Creating the storyline and the backdrop is the easy part. Setting goals and planning can be done in logical steps and progression. However, changing the characters and their perspective and how they interact with life requires much more thoughtful contemplation. Here is where I have to evaluate my weaknesses and chart a path to greater awareness and strength.
With my confidence to be able to do anything right at an all-time low I find myself without any optimism that I can affect a change. This means that I need to work on myself, to rebuild that fragile image of self. I have learnt that it is easy to say to yourself: “have confidence”, but if you don’t feel it on the inside, it is an empty word. I think that to have confidence would feel very powerful compared to the weakness you feel when you believe that nothing you do is good enough or adequate. 
That is for the most part where I am at. Can you believe it, at my age I feel that I have been inadequate to the tasks that life has given me. I feel that I have failed in some of the most important areas of my life. I want to face the future with optimism that I can do better but at the same time I am filled with doubt. I continue to read and try to learn more about how I can improve and wonder “will it ever be enough?”
Another area that I am striving to rebuild in my life is the ability to hope and have faith that things can be different or better. I think I was born an optimist, but events in my life have transformed a substantial part of me into a pessimist and I am envisioning that there is no “better just around the corner.” That this is as “good as it gets”. That people change and relationships that you thought were stable and healthy were rotten on the inside and did not weather the tests of time. In that frame of mind you can have all the hope and faith in the world and still not believe in possibilities. How does one turn around from there? How do you recreate the innocence of optimism? That is quite some challenge.
Finally there are the partners, trust and love. Does a broken heart heal? Can trust be rebuilt? Disappointments in life and relationships have erased the confidence I used to feel about these emotions. I used to face life with arms wide open to the world of people around me. I allowed people into my inner circle that maybe had no business there. Pain and heartache have created a barrier around me and I feel that I am keeping most of the world and possibly life, outside that barrier. It is safe within that barrier but outside that barrier is uncertainty and possible pain. Is this a pragmatic and good thing? Or is it preventing me from embracing possible new or different relationships? How does one overcome fear of rejection to take a chance once again and risk being hurt once again?
Taking on new challenges in life based on activities and doing is wonderful and fulfilling and safe. Risking emotional involvement is filled with the possibility of failure.
So as I look at the script for my future I am pondering what kind of character will I allow myself to develop into. Will I follow the safe and solitary path, or will I be a risk taker? Can I continue to develop the creative side of me without taking those emotional risks, or are risks that vital ingredient that keeps the creativity flowing? So many unanswered questions demanding to be faced and I find myself facing my blank page at the moment, without any useful answers.
Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 – 11
Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
   My journal entries and picture are copyright
   You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
   Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

Accepting What is Out of Our Control

Accepting that I am getting older and that I only have my “golden years” left is the most important thing that I have had to identify.  It has been a process over the past couple of years since the tragic event that suddenly changed the course of my life.

I had to overcome my fear of change when the routine that I had been in and which brought me such great satisfaction was suddenly stolen from me.   I loved my life, my family and what I was doing.  Then overnight that all changed. 

The process of letting all of that go, has not been an easy one.  I learnt to create new plans and follow through on them.  At first it was just because I refused to sit back and accept that my life was over.  My first goal was to create an adventure every month.  For me traveling someplace and exploring replaced all that I had lost.  Gradually the new things in my life grew in importance.  They became the new me and defined the person I hope to be for the rest of my life.

I am letting go of the past but I am finding that it is much easier to say “I am letting go”  and that the emotions of close ties makes it much more challenging to follow through.

I take actions, I take steps and gradually what was becomes less important in my daily activities and what is now becomes more important.  I can now sometimes go a whole day without reflecting on the painful event of the past.  I hope someday to be free of the wound.

In the meantime I create a freedom of sorts out of a grim determination not to surrender to the hurts of the past.  I dream, I plan, I follow through on the adventure.  I enjoy every moment of every adventure, I relish in the beauty that surrounds me.  I make the most of every moment. By doing so I am breaking the chains of love and caring that bind me to the past and those who have hurt me.

Will I ever be totally free?  The heart is a powerful instrument of hope and yearns for  what used to be.   So it is doubtful that total mind freedom will ever be a possibility.  However, I will not live shackled by the events of the past and that is enough freedom for me right now.

Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 - 07

    Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
         My journal entries and picture are copyright
        You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
        Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My New Year’s Day Reflection:

I found myself doing a lot of thinking on this first day of 2013.  Thinking about the direction of my life now that I am older and looking at how to make the most of my later years.  The words “what do you want to be, do and have in the coming year” kept playing through my mind and I started to realize that I have been changing and evolving the past 3 years. 

These years have been the most difficult years of my life.  My children are all grown and have moved on to their own lives.  I have retired from a career that gave me great pleasure and a focus for my energies.  So, with no childrearing responsibilities and no job related responsibilities for the first time in a very long time I was left with free time. 

I set out to learn how to play again.  I found that it was harder to relearn the second time around.  Play comes naturally to children; it is how they fill their day and how they learn and how they keep busy.  Sure they often ask for guidance but they get fulfillment out of play activity.   However, once we have learnt to be productive working adults, filling time in the pursuit of play almost seems frivolous.  I required a change in my mindset.  I had to learn to work at playing.  That is, I had to make sure that my pleasures had value for me, that the reward was in the experience that at the end of my day of “play” I had that sense of productiveness and accomplishment that I used to get from my career and child raising duties.

In my pursuit of learning how to play I took up new hobbies and sports.  I believe the experiment has been successful in that my life is full of new things and I have made new habits and routines for myself.  I have filled my days with experiences and challenges that bring me joy and fulfillment.  They add value to my days.  I am trying hard to not just live a day but I am attempting to be aware of experiencing every day as unique and special. 

So what exactly do I want to add to add to my life in 2013 that will give more meaning?

What do I want to be?

I want to be content.   I want to be aware of the act of being rather than the title of being. For example I want to be in the moment of writing or in the moment of taking a picture versus being a writer or a photographer.  I want to be living in a conscious way and be present for every task I perform.  That includes even the mundane activities.  These are the challenges.  How to perform simple chores with awareness and meaning.

What do I want to do?

I want to focus on doing things in such a manner that I bring joy to the doing.  I want to change my focus from concentrating on what to do, and turn it around to focus on the joy of the doing.  Making a list of things to do is second nature but I intend to take a moment to reflect how to bring pleasure or meaning to the doing.

What do I want to have?

I want to have more memorable moments.  I have come to the conclusion that the value of an object is not in the having rather, the value of the object is in the using of them.  When we have an object just for the sake of having it, it remains just that, an object.

When we spend time with that object using it for its intended purpose, we take the opportunity to bring pleasure and joy into our lives.

The enjoyment comes with the using not the having.   Think of golf clubs, it is not having them that brings us pleasure but going out to the course with friends and enjoying a game.  It is not having those rarely used special dishes, but the dinner with friends that makes a moment.  I want to focus on using the things I already have to create more meaningful moments.

So my goal for 2013 is to create within myself a greater awareness of this shift in focus.
My lists will include simple pleasures done with awareness. My goal is to: be content, do every activity with joy and have more meaningful moments.
Renate Dundys Marrello
2013 – 01 - 02
Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
      My journal entries and picture are copyright
      You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
      Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.

2012 – 12 – 31 – final reflection on the past year

On the last day of the year I spent time reflecting on the journey that I have taken in the past 12 months. 2012 has been the first year that I have consciously written every day not just about the things that I have done but also the things that I have felt. I have journeyed through reflections on inspirations and quotes, experimented with creating quotes and finding my inner artist. I have learnt to take pride in my creativity, my ability to find beauty in the world around me and with growing confidence have attempted to capture in images and in words the wonders that surround me.

From a tentative beginning I ended up celebrating who I am and the things that I am capable of. I have poetry and verse, pictures and art, thoughtful reflections and the beginnings of a possible book or two all now collected together as a celebration of who I am and what I can create.

I have gone from doubting that I could, to thinking that I can. From being fearful of failure to accepting that whatever I create is better than creating nothing for fear it may not be good enough.

I have learnt that I have gifts that I have hidden for fear of rejection. And I have learnt that it does not matter what others think…there is pleasure in the doing, regardless of the outcome or the receptivity of others. I have learnt that sometimes what I create has an impression on others, and that fills me with joy. I have also learnt that even what I consider my failures teach me something about myself.

There have been days of sadness as I struggle with the challenges of my circumstances and there have been days of joy as I have been victorious in challenges that I have placed before myself. And now I stand on the brink of a new year and reflect that it has been a good year of personal growth and that I look forward to 2013 and more opportunities to discover the undiscovered country inside me.
Renate Dundys Marrello
2012 - 12 - 31
   Photoart by Renate Dundys Marrello
     My journal entries and picture are copyright
     You may quote and share as long as you give me credit.
     Photoart may be ordered as signed art if you contact me.