Wondering Wednesdays – no right of way

Walking in the woods on Sunday, we saw this sign.

We didn’t take the path, the landowner had put up the rope to enforce their boundaries. They had designated some paths as a right of way, not this one.

We all need boundaries. They support and enhance our wellbeing.

I have been entertained by some of the comments on the lifting of restrictions in the UK on 17th May, great we can hug, oh no, hugging is back!

We will have personal physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, social boundaries, time boundaries, time and money boundaries and perhaps others.

These are ours to determine and I will usually resist attempts to get me to violate my boundaries. I have people I trust and respect who can challenge me if they think I am being too rigid or porous with them.

But where my boundaries are healthy I do not need people to tell me what I should be doing, thinking etc. There are good reasons for the boundaries, supporting my health and wellbeing.

It has not always been easy to assert my boundaries but I have learnt over the years to do this better and I flourish more when it happens.

How do boundaries work for you?

#boundaries #health #wellbeing

Covid-19 Musing Aloud: sometimes we do reap what we sow

As we come out of lockdown restrictions, many minds are moving to consider how do we recover. I came across this quote again recently and it quickened my mind to our pandemic. My recent reflections have been around the twin tracks, that we reap what we have previously sown before Covid-19 appeared and what we plan to do now, will lift or depress our spirits.

My own well-being during the past year has drawn upon foundational roots that I have put down over the hard learnt lessons of 40 years in ministry and being open to dig new wells. Who would have thought gardening and DIY would be my rechargers? I have always valued grace, but bucket fulls of graciousness have been needed to just survive, let alone thrive.

I know myself well enough that I need breaks to look forward to. We were fortunate to have time off booked as April restrictions were lifting and a postponed long weekend away from last year coming back around. My work plans for the team and department for coming year are going to major on a gentle discovery towards our new normal.

I appreciate I have mixed the metaphors of reaping and watering, but many of us have drawn in various ways upon nature for our well-being. As we move forward out of lockdown, we can be encouraged that we have at least survived so far. I have so much admiration for those who have faced the harsh realities of Covid-19. Many have not reaped what they have previously sown or been fairly treated. Heart break has been the parallel pandemic. Many do not have the resources they deserve or need to recover. Our care for one another must continue.

Sally and I have recently drowned a potted plant in the garden, as it did not have a drainage hole in the bottom. If we get regularly watered, we also need outlets. The complexity of nature is not always easily managed. But we draw down on our roots to find nourishment and stability. Generally, regular watering, drainage for outlets, will give us the best opportunity to flourish and blossom even during the arid times.

Friday photo – what’s the story?

This is an ancient burial mound and when we arrived at it late Saturday afternoon there was a lit candle there – you can just see it if you look closely!

We passed a small number of people as we walked there, one of those inaccessible from the road places.

I wondered who the candle was lit for. Who was being remembered and why there.

Rituals are so important to us, helping with processing and sometimes even acknowledging.

With churches which may once have been open largely closed, where can you go to light a candle to remember if you want to do that in a sacred place.

There has been much mourning over the past year or so with so many sad stories, more than usual.

What I have learnt is how important it is to listen to those who want to talk as they mourn and to say the name of the person who has died.

As we say at the annual chaplaincy memorial service, always loved, never forgotten.

Wondering Wednesdays – why spiritual health?

You might have noticed I have been writing a little bit about spiritual health and yesterday I launched a new piece of work for me, spiritual health check ups.

My physical health varies and apart from trying to have some sensible eating and exercise habits there is not a lot I can do about that.

My mental health is not normally a concern for me.

However, my spiritual health has been challenging at times and looking back over the years with a fresh understanding of what spiritual health is, I realise there have been issues. Seeing it was an issue for me I wondered if it was an issue for others and have found the idea resonates so am focusing some work in that area.

For me spiritual health is about thriving and flourishing, fulfilling potential, connectedness, wellbeing and joy. If I am not experiencing some of this then I have realized that means I am in spiritual pain and need to do something about it.

I am drawing on a research base in my approach to spiritual health and focusing on four areas of spiritual wellbeing, our relationship with ourselves, others, the transcendent, the environment. Making adjustments or tweaks in these four areas then positively impacts spiritual health.

Does any of this resonate with you? It feels like life should be okay but there is a niggle or a stuckness or frustration, something is wrong or out of sync – making changes to the areas that impact your spiritual health may be the solution.

Check out my website for more information or to book on a group or 1-1 course or email me sally@sallynash.co.uk to find out more or check out if it is a good fit for you.

The picture for this post is from a recent weekend away where mountains and the sea nourished me and enriched my relationship with the environment as well as myself as I had time and space to think and walk.

#spiritualhealth #flourishing #thriving

Covid-19 Musing Aloud: Glimpses

The covid-19 lifting of restrictions plan has given us promises and glimpses of returning to former joys and pleasures. Not yet, but soon.This unremarkable picture holds so much joy, pleasure and anticipation for me. It is the view from the patio table of the Anglesey farm we are staying on for the bank holiday weekend.
The photo might seem a bit dull, but if you look carefully, you will see a glimpse of the sea.

As a lover of the sea, this picture holds much promise and anticipation. What are the views like from walks, rooms in the cottage etc? Are they glimpses or full blown panoramics of the sea and mountains? If all goes to plan, holidays, eating out, meeting up, for some, physically being able to go into a shop, hair cuts, all are being looked forward, to and planned or may have already happened.

So far, the anticipation is being realised. But this is not always how life goes. What we are promised, planned, does not always come to pass. The glimpses do not always materialize into the full panorama it gives a tease of.

On this trip, I took us on a drive I did not know, in the hope of finding dinner and a view. A high bar given current restrictions mean we can’t eat inside and it was 12 degrees! At the third coastal village, we found a pub with views, serving food, with unfortunately, with every outside table in the shade and full. In hopeful anticipation, we waited around to see if folks would be leaving soon. It soon materialized that it was full with early gatherers and tables began to empty.

This is the view from our burger meal table, so worth waiting for. One of the best views I have ever had for a meal. Not glimpses, but full panorama of inspirational beauty. Sometimes our hopes are surpassed, the view, the haircut, the meal. Sometimes we need to prepare ourselves that glimpses, will never be any more than that.

Friday photo – going with the flow

I don’t find going with the flow at the macro level very easy. I am more of a planned and organized person and can struggle with disruption of plans.

At the micro level I love going with the flow, in a 1-1 mentoring session for example, seeing what emerges, following the flow.

One of the things which interests me are the times when I am really happy to catch life as it flows, they can be times when I am on holiday or relaxing and I am perhaps more in touch with my shadow side.

Do you catch life as it flows?

This was a sign above a house, I wonder who chose to have it there and wonder also what I might choose to have a sign above our house.

Wondering Wednesdays – seeing the world their way

Rabbi Michael Paley writes
In our relationships with other people, we often ask to see their faces but maybe we should ask to see their backs so that we can see the world, maybe only for an instant, the way they see it.

I see this as a metaphor rather than a literal observation. But it is one I think is important, how can we see the world through the eyes of another? By listening is my usual experience. Having someone who listens to us rather than projects their interpretation on us can sometimes feel like a rare gift.

It is perhaps core to the role of a chaplain, a mentor, as well as a close friend or in another part of my world a good researcher!

Whose back do you need to see today? Or do you need to reach out to someone to see your back?

#perspective #mentoring

Paley cited in Joyce Rupp Boundless Compassion Notre Dame Sorin Books 2018 p24.

Covid-19 Musing Aloud, what next: How many loves in one picture?

I love it when a picture prompts a question, it is a helpful example of a reflective life. When I was going through my photos from the last 2 weeks break and working from Cornwall, this picture made me smile.

How many loves can you see, for me, perhaps a few contextualised for you?

In order of focus, and some might say questioning my priorities, Sally, my wife, a golf course, a Celtic cross and finally Dartmoor in the background.

I am sure you can see what these loves reflect. Most of us have had to draw deeply on existing rechargers, revisit old ones and discover new ones, to survive and perhaps even thrive during Covid-19 and lockdowns. There is lots of reflection now on the short, medium and long term effects on our mental and spiritual health and what we need going forward. My loves help me with what I need to for these categories or stages of recovery.

1. Rest / relax
2. Recharge                                                          3. Restore

Perhaps you can think of further Rs. What I like about this list is that it encourages me to reflect upon a supportive order. To allow ourselves the opportunity to rest before recharging before being restored in our recovery. Sometimes some loves enable overlapping of the stages, but to give ourselves space and place to recover is personal but essential.

My final reflection is that I have returned from my post lockdown break more physically tired than before I went because much of my rest and relaxation has been in doing lots of walking in places that I have really missed. But I am mentally and emotionally refreshed, my perspectives are restored and have begun my recovery.

Friday photo – feeding time

I loved watching this little lamb go up to Mum and start feeding itself

Mum was so patient standing their until.her child had finished.

Feeding is a metaphor I play with a lot. I lAt my core one of the things I am is an educator. As such I have always seen education as mutual feeding.

I can tell stories of how I have been fed and nurtured by those I worked with as an educator as well as hopefully offering them food.

I also look to feed my spirit and soul and this walk did that. It was at the edge of what I can easily manage and offered amazing 360 degree views of Bodmin Moor.

I want also to feed my mind and that is where lockdown has been most challenging. Brain fog has made reading so hard for someone who grew up loving reading and devouring books. I have found it easier while away with new scenery etc but wonder what it will feel like back in the everydayness of Birmingham.

Body, mind, spirit – how are you doing with feeding any or all of these? Any tips?

I am enjoying developing my spiritual health materials, it gets me thinking about how I am balancing such things.

#spirit #feed

Wondering Wednesdays – wishes…

As a child I used to make a wish as I blew out my birthday cake candles. Something which isn’t very helpful now – the blowing candles out with the danger of spitting on the cake!

I don’t remember anything I wished and I have no idea if any of them came true. But I do still wish.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the theologians whose wisdom I find helpful. He writes this about wishes:

Wishes to which we cling too tightly can easily rob us of some of what we can and indeed ought to be. By contrast, wishes that we repeatedly overcome for the sake of our present tasks make us richer. The utter lack of wishes is actually poverty. One can have a fulfilled life despite numerous unfulfilled wishes.

I am repeatedly having to overcome wishes I have of understanding and being understood as I forge a new pathway in a different sort of world.

I am grateful for the encouragement I have had to keep on going and the generous compliments people have paid me as I could be living a very different life at the moment but that would be one which would have robbed me of what I can be. And that would be very bad for my spiritual health.

(Wondrously Sheltered. Augsburg Books p`14)