How I love to laugh

“If we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.”

~ Robert Frost

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I notice I’m laughing a lot, lately. Loud, belly laughter, that rumbles and ripples and bounces off the walls. Sometimes it’s about random shit, other times it’s about things that are ‘actually funny’.

I notice how much I love making other people laugh. I love, love, love, how humour ripples. I love how it’s contagious.

And I love how it makes me feel. That sense of pride and achievement about making someone chuckle is one of my favourite feelings. I feel warm inside and happy when it happens. And I love myself, when I do.

Just like I love myself when I make myself laugh, too. In fact, that’s one of my most favourite feelings, and one that differs from all the rest, because the warmth that floods my chest is warmth just for myself.

Not warmth for anyone else, but warmth for myself. In those moments I burst out laughing at my actions or my thoughts, or consequences of something I’ve been doing (or when there’s been no apparent connection and it’s seemingly just random, whatever it is that happens, that triggers laughter) I feel such fondness and appreciation for myself.

I feel grateful that I’ve got myself, and I feel grateful that I’m known to myself…that I get to see me as well as just feel me.

That, along with the video below, is a good reason to laugh.

Gently breathing love,

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Lately, I’ve been finding mindfulness really difficult. I still do it but I end up swamped and in my own thoughts, memories or feelings or impulses flooding my system. But I kinda roll with it. Sometimes I enjoy it – that bursting with indication, grief, pain, joy, beauty…but sometimes it frustrates me because I never come out of the process of breathing and being mindful, feeling that peaceful. I feel knackered. Or like a wound is right there, raw and open – even more than before. That’s the thing that keeps happening the most…I kinda dread just being with my own thoughts and feelings, and mind and body, yet I crave it too. And at the moment I’m getting a lot of it.

I think I feel so swamped with ‘stuff’…my stuff. This isn’t new, and I think it feels accompanied by exhaustion and MIND fatigue…in other words, brain fog. That must be it. I kinda can’t ‘come to’ unless for short bursts. Doing something in nature or really connecting or really outside myself and requiring a lot of concentration, then I quickly ‘wake up’ and drift from my innards and feel present, in daily life. It sorta feels like my brains just really knackered and it’s on Sleep. Maybe it sorta is…maybe it’s its way of coping. Our bodies, after all, are the queens and kings of knowing what they need. I just sometimes (I used to all-the-time) wish for different. Instead, I kinda long for it. Wishing hasn’t ever solved anything and once I realised that I stopped doing it so much…but there’s something beneath the wishing that probably needs to be felt. And I think it’s a longing. Like, a longing for it to be different – a longing for my mind and body to feel fighting fit. I’m allowing myself to feel the longing for other things in my life, but I hadn’t realised that I’m not really feeling it for my body. God that thing deserves my longing to be felt…I deserve to feel these feelings.

I used to think feeling feelings meant you BELIEVED the feelings and felt them entirely, and maybe that by feeling the feelings you are writing Fact…writing history. Like, by feeling angry, I AM angry. By feeling sad, I AM sad. But what if I’m just feeling angry or feeling sad, and they’re a feeling and they’re here to pass through on their way somewhere else? They’re not writing history, unless my history is a history of what I’ve been feeling…the. holy fuck, my history of just today has been long!

So back to mindfulness. In a way, this makes sense. What I’m trying to do is learn how to feel the feelings I’m feeling beneath the story my mind is telling. Beneath the ‘stuff’ is a story of feelings – a story that only needs to, and can be, told through the process of noticing…noticing qualities, noticing how the feeling feels in my body. It’s such a different experience when I do that. My daily experience and my momentary experience is completely different. I feel more AWAKE. My eyes feel open and my brain feels cleared.

When I open up my chest and my throat and breath real deep, and breathe in love to myself – strongly and gently and commitedly – I get a break. The above happens. Whereas before when I’ve done that, I’ve tended to breathe in with force rather than compassion. Like rather than breathing in YOUWILLFEELCONNECTIONCOMPASSIONLOVEDAMMIT, I breathe in love connection compassion right down, deep into my belly. Strongly but firmly. Gently and compassionately. Then it all falls away. My stuff is there to just notice, rather than cloud.

Maybe this is my ticket to vitality. My ticket to my own inner coffee shop. A coffee shop that serves up cups of Noticing, and mugs of Breath. Rather than triple shots of Ethiopian or cafetiers of Venezuelan.

That’d be nice. I’d defo have a loyalty card there…and maybe I’ve already got one, I just forget to trust that I can – it’s safe – to use it.

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We are animals

I just saw this article and it broke my heart. But it has also baffled me and brought me a massive whack of connection with the natural, animal, world. Seeing this Orangutan injured – in the photo below – and so clearly in pain and terrified, breaks. my. heart. beyond words. I want to reach into the photograph and stop its suffering. And the fact I can’t, leaves me feeling helpless.

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But when I see how it’s lying, I realise that that’s how I lie when I’m crying in therapy. I lie on my side at the moment (because of my back being sore) and when I cry, I cover my face with my arms up, exactly like this animal. And I cry like that by myself too. It makes me feel safe. It makes me feel like I’m protected when I’m feeling big feelings, or feeling scared. Realising, and seeing, this, blew me away.

It’s overwhelming beautiful but overwhelming tragic, as I look at the photograph and see this animal doing it too. Because we’re the same. Us humans, the animals, the earth.

I feel blown away by how we’re all so connected. We’re humans but we’re animals. And that’s why cruelty like this is just even more wrong. It would be wrong if we weren’t animals, but we are and by doing this to them, we are doing it to ourselves. By hurting animals, we are hurting ourselves. And by hurting the earth, we are hurting ourselves too.

I feel livid and full of sorrow. But I also feel grateful for people being able to show these things on the media, otherwise we would never know it goes on. And I know that there is a shed load more shit we don’t see, but know is there.

I had no idea the palm oil production was so destructive, and for that I feel ashamed. And I also feel a deep, deep, concern because the destruction keeps happening. It’s in these moments I am grateful I eat a Paleo style diet, because I don’t eat products pre-made. Not that I did before this anyway, or rarely have I ever in my life. It may sound hypercritical because I’m still eating meat, but health-wise I have decided I need it – and I really do. And my sources are organic – and when I can, local. I have made peace with this, almost. I can’t shed all the guilt but I have learnt to shed a lot of it.

We need more photographs like this, because photographs like this open up a place inside ourselves that makes us feel connected. And by feeling connected, we can feel love. And by feeling love towards something or sometime, we naturally want to protect it. We protect those we love.

Get your shit together Palm Oil producers, this is far from okay.

Filming a doco

Yesterday I started filming for a doco I’m in about ptsd. It’s a doco about me. Writing that feels slightly terrifying. Yesterday was the first meet up with James who’s filming it. We met up a couple of weeks ago to discuss what we’re gonna do, and had initially met a year and a bit ago, but I had been too nervous and it just hasn’t felt right, to begin yet. So now we have, because now it did feel right. Nervy but right.

It feels weird. The two times we’ve met I couldn’t work out what was going on, but it felt like a trauma reaction the whole time we were together, yet I sorta fought on, trying to keep my enthusiasm noticeable and my desire to be part of it, noticeable too – because it is SO very there. This kinda reaction though, makes sense. It’s a vulnerable project, one where I’ll bare my soul in a way I haven’t done so before, and so of course I’m going to be triggered and a bit on the edge of traumatised, because its touching in on things I’m afraid of speaking as truth. Afraid of touching in with as truth. But then I realised, maybe I don’t need to. Maybe I only need to say what’s comfortable. I always think things need to be hard, but they don’t. Things can feel soothing, and safe, and calm.

It’s weird, the whole ptsd thing. I think I feel really able to write about it and then loosely talk about it, but specifically talking about the symptoms feels terrifying. It feels too much because when I do, it makes me realise just how hard it’s been. And how…I wanna say bad but I don’t like that word, so I won’t, ish!

I feel like I need to become clearer and gain more clarity on why I’m doing it and what I want to say. He’s said that from the beginning – the last time we met – and I have made long lists of notes and inner thoughts, about what I want to say and what I want my angle to be. It’s about my journey with ptsd and so a big part of what I drifted to wanting to say, is about my experience with the effects of it in my body and emotions, but I think that’s scared me. The desire to talk about post traumatic growth, inspires me and brings me hope, and makes me want to do more, say more and be in it more…so I think I need to go with that. The other stuff feels too tender. Of course it’ll probably be touched on, but I can do it with my cartoons. I can tread carefully and gently and in ways I feel comfortable. I want to tell about it, but I also feel so fragile about it. It feels like the utmost vulnerability, and perhaps a vulnerability I don’t feel safe enough to experience yet. Whereas the healing process I am totes up for. That feels positive – sharing my experience of how I’ve gotten through it and am continuing to. That doesn’t feel scary, that just feels exciting.

So maybe I should go with that…

Yes.

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And the ‘why’ of why I’m doing it? For that reason – to tell my story, but I’m also doing it for me. I’m doing to honour the journey I’ve been on, and the place I am now because of this journey. To honour all that I’ve been through and learnt, but without necessarily going into details – I know the messy, painful, bits, and so do others I’ve told my story to.

In the past I would have just done this for others, but the healing in this is that I feel like I’m doing it for myself, mainly. With then the hope to help others, inspire them, and let them know things can get better. But I do think that feels all a little fresh and all a little scary, because to be honest, it feels like the worst bit is only just ‘over’. It feels like yesterday, and yesterday feels too fresh and painful and raw to make a film about. One day. But for now, I want to talk about the growth and what got me here, to this place of being able to talk.

I think that’s it. To work out priorities feels so important and I am glad I have, it i also feel like I could continue. And perhaps I will as I grow with the doco. I am guessing I will. I always have done – I think that’s how life works!

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This little guy flew somehow ended up in our house yesterday thanks to the hunting cat. It spent an hour or so in our kitchen, the RSPCA came, and then it flew off. I felt an overwhelm of responsibility for the guy – so much so, I couldn’t really handle it…I felt triggered by a bird needing me! As much as I wanna say ‘how weird?!’…it makes total sense. Still though, was a weird – and sad to be so effected – experience! It was kinda special too.

Stuff

I notice lately how my desire to ‘work’ on things, on my ‘stuff’ has somewhat dwindled. A lot of the time I just can’t be arsed. I want a break. I want to integrate that life with a new life – one where I feel more present and part of the world. I think that’s happening, because when I do work on stuff – cartoons or journaling, or talking closely with a friend – I really love it and feel so grateful, it’s just the process of getting there and feels like it takes all my strength, yet there is a well within that I feel like I could access and throw all over the page or air or stream or river.

But maybe I just don’t want to right now, as much as I have been. This whole last year and a half, and a touch more, I’ve been sooo deep within and going so inside and its been incredible, but I now crave balance and comfort in the norm and the outside world. And it’s happening, slowly. I notice more things are coming my way, the desire to not be just sitting in my stuff, is fading. It’s also because I am struggling to find motivation, but it’s also because I think I do just need a break. And I think that feels quite healthy. It’s been a mega time of intensive looking, and I kinda feel like it’ll continue because I don’t feel ready to break it down just yet, but I feel like it might become a little less. I hope so. Provided the parts of me, and my feelings, don’t get forgotten.

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I feel an urge to support myself, during this new splurge of life and drive. I have a tendency to run on, regardless. And I do feel like I’ve been running from my feelings a bit – they just feel too intense. I’m scared of looking. I’m scared of going deep because I don’t feel resources to keep myself there. This desire to run, is out of fear but also enthusiasm. Fear that things’ll go shit again if I just stop to wonder or breathe or go deep. A fear that I’ll lose this splurge of ambition and the realising of my purpose. And enthusiasm because I’ve realised my purpose right now – to tell my story. I’ve known that for a while now but I feel like I really know it now. It’s a gap I’m wanting to fill, and I see ways that I can do it. And am doing it. And an enthusiasm to feel like I’m tapping into my potential, my drive, my success, my attributes, my qualities, my things that make me human. And that make me, me.

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I feel like my life is changing and I hope it continues to. Part of the change feels like with the ‘looking at my stuff’ and doing the work, and in other parts of my life, I feel like I seem to just do stuff a lot quicker than before. Like, journaling, I’ll have a release in twenty mins that I would have done in an hour before. I just don’t want to do things for as long – everything. My attention span feels like either its changing, or I’m just honouring it more…I think it’s that. I’m honouring it. I’m honouring who I am, rather than try to be something I’m not. I hope that keeps on coming, and I think it will. It’s scary though, because I just want to be someone else…but I’m enough and I’m fucking brilliant and noone else gets to be me. I wish I truly felt that though.

With the change, my worries deepen but the themes are still the same – that I’ll go crazy, that I’m fucked up, that I’ll become my mum…that I’ll end up bankrupt with no home and no job and not having gotten anywhere. Hmm. They sound might familiar to ANY OTHER WORRIES I HAVE HAD THE LAST YEAR. Make that the last two, three, maybe four.

Hmm. I think that goes to show, I can call these stories out and put them in the box labelled ‘UNTRUE’. And in the box labelled ‘Word’ I’ll pop in a note to let me know my life is mine and it is unfolding.

Vitamin D, where art thou?

I think I need some vitamin d. My insides feel like they could go on forever. They feel vast and empty and dark. And open yet closed off, all at the same time. It feels never-ending. It feels like a sensation – it’s in my body, yet my mind tries to make sense of it and come up with story. But it’s defo in my body. And I’m not surprised. It makes sense. Because of my back, I have only caught sunlight THREE times in the last three weeks…that’s mental. This here, is me needing vitamin D. No wonder I’ve been craving and just thinking about it almost non-stop it lately.

I found myself googling ‘vitamin d lightbulbs’ cos I don’t wanna fork out for a light lamp – 26939 pounds – but it broke my heart. I WILL NOT BUY ARTIFICIAL SUNLIGHT FOR MY BEDROOM. But I also don’t wanna spend this time in such deep darkness – deep. Like, I am really good at dealing with the surface darkness and places I find myself in, but this feels physical. Like, my insides are black. I don’t feel depressed, but my insides feel suppressed. Ancient. On vacation. Disappeared, and in their place is black. I notice how I just want to go inwards too – weird seeing as I am not usually one to walk into the dark. I have massive cravings to be looking outwards and connecting with the world, but the bigger pull is to go in. I notice how much more I thrive when I’m connecting both outwards and inwards – watching things, talking about things, thinking about things, that are out of my immediate world. When I’m on my own so much, and so stationary, this feels sooo important. I hadn’t quite realised until just this month – it brings me that reminder that there is so much going on in this world, even if it doesn’t feel like it from the four walls of my bedroom.

But the last few days I’ve tiptoed back onto the old ground I was walking on, just the week before last – before I had my episode of going-outwards – and it’s frustrating me, yet it feels…again…so physical. Like the draw of my insides and my internal world is SO much stronger than that draw for the outer one. It feels like a muscle, one that’s pulling inwards. The muscle pulling me outwards is one of thriving, light, hope, anger, power, and a desire for connection, a break, the bigger picture, perspective, and solace. The muscle pulling me inwards is one of inquisition, curiosity, comfort and self-loving, but also destruction, and a desire to just Hide. Away. I can’t tell you how much I have been feeling that the last two days. Like I have had to really PULL myself awake – metaphorically not literally – from my inner daydream and inner dozing (yet the pull only seems to last for a moment and then I’m back there, within).

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I just so long to crawl under my pillow and hide. Again, it’s felt so physical. I feel like I can’t close my eyes hard enough. I forget that I’m here, living a life. I feel like I’m just waiting for it to get started. I sorta feel like I’m in a constant dream and I need someone to wake me, gently. I just want to sleep and wake up and everything’s new.

I think I crave spring. I crave seeing that light and life in the world, too. A reminder of everything that’s living and cycles, new beginnings.

I also know I’m due my period any day now and so that kinda explains this all too. But I defo need some sunlight, artificial or real. PREFERABLY REAL.

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Yesterday I was on the phone to my friend, and that woke me, gently. Heart connections, I realise do it daily. I can be so drifted into My World but then a connection comes and bah, it’s gone. I’m back and here and my heart is open, and I’m home. I’m no longer dreaming or wanting to hide – I’m wanting to thrive. It only takes seconds for this to happen. This is health. It’s still there and always has been, will be, and is.

We were talking about my back, and I said – I hadn’t said this in full sentence out loud before, but it’s been on my mind lately a LOT – how I’m afraid for my back to get better, because I’ve forgotten what life outside my house is like. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to not be at home all day. I’ve forgotten what it’s like to be active and upright and moving, and busy and free and out there living. Instead I’m so used to Inside Living – metaphorically and literally – I’ve simply forgotten what anything else feels like. Yet it’s Life and its life I want. My friend said, kindly, “oh, it’s so much better being better”…I think I needed that external reminder. It’s motherfucking hard keeping that for yourself all the time, when its yourself that’s forgotten. I know though, that the whole of me hasn’t forgotten, it’s just a strong part of me that has. The rest of me kinda feels like it’s lying dormant, yet ready to KICK INTO ACTION at the slightest flick of the switch. And hopefully that switch is coming…and in a way, it comes daily, it just looks a little different.

Hmm.

It’s ridiculously 5.20am and I need to get back to sleep.

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Creating groups

Today I created the prospect of a ptsd group, or at least the beginnings of it: I picked up my stuff from the printers and put up my first two flyers.

In a way the beginning of it didn’t really start today, even though it felt like it. Today was just another big fat tick along the journey of making one. It actually first started months ago when I first created the meet-up group online, or over a year ago when I first loosely (but full of hope-ly/wondering possibility) had the thought of starting a group and mentioned it to one or two people – a group I so desperately felt I needed and have done ever since… It feels pretty profound to get to this point. And it kinda is. It’s exciting, but somewhat terrifying too.

I high fived myself in the mirror yesterday for going to the hospital by myself TWICE in a day. Maybe I need to high five myself in the mirror for this too. So far I’ve just been offering myself grins, praise, and a lot of cuddles. That’s been doing the job too.

Let’s see what happens…! Bring it. 😊

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Magic hedgehog hangouts

I haven’t seen a hedgehog for years and they are rare little things to see. Tonight I was stood on the phone in the garden and out-of-the-blue one was stood less than a metre from my feet, looking up at me. It must have pottered out from the hedge/fence thing marking the line between our garden and the neighbours’, beside me.

It then gently walked underneath the compost heap. I’m pretty sure it would’ve stayed a while longer had I not been (gently, and not so gently) squealing with excitement and disbelief. It was magic. I couldn’t quite believe it was a hedgehog because those guys should be asleep for the winter…but I’m guessing it was looking for food.

I’m not sure whether to leave some food out because I’m worried why this little fella is out on a January night…but I also don’t wanna step in when I’m not needed, and I don’t want it to get used to me feeding because I’m moving soon.

Hmm. Perhaps I’ll make some phone calls in the morn and enquire.

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2014, that was pretty magic. Yesterday I swum in the rain in an outdoor pool to welcome in the new year and honour my tradition of swimming outdoors on New Year’s Day (it’s always been the sea or rivers or a lake and last year was the FIRST year I didn’t and I think that goes to show how shit (intense) that year was gonna be…), and today I had a little hangout with a ‘hog. In all the intensity and the overwhelming feelings, the magic is pretty special stuff.

It’s funny how much joy, tenderness and compassion moments like this bring me. And my body. I feel like I can store the sensations and the pleasure in my bod to come back to…and the sense of joy, tenderness, connection, compassion and fulfilment is so strong, it’s overwhelming. But beautifully overwhelming.

And these moments happen so so often. There’s magic everywhere, we just have to look. I think the magic makes the SHIT bearable…that must be what it is. Lately my feelings have been so intense. Like, so intense. And my sense of hopelessness and anxiety has been blinding and pretty damn consistent…yet somehow I keep going. Somehow I have and find resources and a way, to keep on trucking through. And it’s moments like this that do it. They stay with me and fill me so full when they happen, that the sense of disaster and desire for self-destruction feels bearable and I feel able to resist it, steer away from it…watch it rather than be it.

Things have been so awful lately I feel like I’ve withdrawn myself as nothing, no connection or vulnerability or openness has felt safe. Everything and everyone has felt triggering, and in some ways still does. It’s felt like only surface stuff will do – writing and talking – any depth is unsafe because of the shit that comes with it, in myself…the projection and the disbelief of the love offered and the beliefs I hold within of what it means and what I am.

But maybe something’s different now, now that I can notice and be with this need for surface stuff and honour it…and know when to gently push through and find deeper connection, and know when to stick with it and honour my defences. Rather than only listening to one channel of my responses radio…instead I think I’m learning to listen to both. (I’ve got two channels…rational and irrational, reactive and centred, conscious and subconscious and so on.)

I will keep on looking for the magic. I seem to naturally do so anyway…it only gets really hard when I don’t. It kinda feels like when things are so intensely awful and my sense of doom and haunting from present trauma (here visiting from the past), things also feel even more intensely beautiful, magical, and overwhelming incredible too. It’s like my volume switch gets amped up a gear.

It can feel pretty nuts but the special, always feels pretty damn special.