Letters into the human psyche

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I have a fascination with what I call “the human condition”, and this probably charted the course for my training as a lawyer then a psychotherapist. I have taken (guilty?) pleasure reading the emotions and thoughts of others, the whys of their action and words, as they examine their lives in one form or another. Some may call it voyeuristic and over-thinking, and there were moments of these; often it is a genuine curiosity about what makes us tick and tock.

I have written about “Letters of Note” (2013) a compilation by Shaun Usher of correspondence by history figures in different facets of life. I came across his second compilation, unsurprisingly titled “More Letters of Note” (2015) last year.

At the heart of the correspondence in both volumes is the meaning and purpose of life, and love; shared from one to another which demonstrated our shared humanity.

No matter the time in history, our station in life, our wealth, our sexual preference or gender, our racial or ethnic background, our religious beliefs – we love and we seek to find meaning for those transitory moments.

Here is a letter written from mid-19th century Georgia, USA.

And here, a letter from a famous turbulent relationship.

 

Ah, so what is love?

 

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

There is magic

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Looking out
into the grey mountain skies
remembering where I’ve been
wondering where the road will lead;
There is magic
in the shimmering rain that falls
in the light peering through
the future remains.

~ FlorenceT

 

I am not my mistakes,
But God knows, I’ve made a few. 
I started to question the angels,
And the answer they gave was you. 

I cannot promise there won’t be sadness,
I wish I could take it from you. 
But you’ll find the courage to face the madness,
And sing it because it’s true. 

I love my life
I am powerful, I am beautiful, I am free
I love my life, 
I am wonderful, I am magical, I am me,
I love my life.

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Intellectual, maybe not

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I grew up in a family of “intellectuals” and in a society which prized the intellect and intellectual pursuits.

By “intellectuals” I do not mean a class of people by their profession, I guess academics come to mind, but rather of their behaviour – the constant asking ‘why’, the emphasis on logic or rational discourse, and as the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, “given to study, reflection, and speculation”. There are various motivations for doing intellectual – “I am not good enough and need to make myself better”, “I want to be admired”, “I have a love of learning”, “That is all I am good for”,… and so it goes.

My mother is still embarrassed about her ‘neglect’ of her then preschool-aged daughter for refusing to answer to the incessant “whys” as she went about her homemaking chores. And my father till today is never far from the whys and hows of things.

I had no cause to question this way of being, even though I questioned almost everything else, ever curious. For a long time, I could not see how everyone else wasn’t like me, or why anyone would not want to study or reflect on stuff, or to see the benefit of learning all the time.

Nature or nurture, I was lucky to be able to embrace this “thinky” way of being. Yes, there is a ‘but’ in here. There was a time when I wanted to be a ballerina (and I apparently have the “strong thighs” for it 😁, then) and a classical singer (I was told while I might have the voice for it, singing opera is a tough gig and I should stick to my intellectual pursuits, sigh). Oh, there were less than successful stints with sprints (yep, those strong thighs again!) and competitive swimming, alas not for me.

All of us have an intellect, and if we practice, we could be adept at this particular of looking at or approaching the world. But as the saying goes, “all things in moderation” and the same goes for being intellectual. Nothing is ever all good or all bad. It is a matter of being flexible and adaptive. A full-time intellectual is tiring and I can imagine, not conducive to social interactions and relationships. Might work for an introvert like me, but even I need something or someone beyond myself!

Sometimes, things just are. Like faith. Sometimes, we need to trust – the person before us, the situation we are in, what has come before will be again – without the perpetual study. Sometimes, we have to let it be. Sometimes we have to hop on and go on the ride. Sometimes emotions take precedent. Sometimes, we just need to give our mind a good rest. And that is what I’ve been doing…in moderation ☺.

I was thinking (yep, that word again!) of how trite my past few posts were, lacking in substance, then it hit me, judgment with a capital ‘J’! They were fun for me, that was what’s needed, period.

A certain someone said he reads my posts because they always get somewhere, make a point… hmmm, guess he’ll be disappointed now 😊 .

This may just be rambling on a rainy Saturday morning.

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

Dance #Haiku Challenge 140 @RonovanWrites

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RonovanWrites Haiku Challenge 140 with prompt words – Twist, Shout

Twist and shout, he says

Beats thunder, lightning dances

Rejoice in your life.

~ FlorenceT

 

And a classic song to go with this – one of my daughter’s favourites.

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

 

On this day…

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Today we celebrate

  • the Women we have taken for granted,
  • the Women we have loved and lost,
  • the Women who have given us care, love and protection,
  • the Women who have chosen to go their own way,
  • the Women who have privileged our lives more than their own,
  • the Women who have shown us the way,
  • the Women who have sacrificed much so we can be here in this moment in our history.

Today we celebrate Being a Woman, and be reminded of the need to pay attention and be vigilant as we go into our future – to honour the women in our lives.

Let our wisdom guide us to appreciate the beauty of our uniqueness and difference, and our shared humanity.

Happy International Women’s Day!

 

Namaste

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

It is not what it seems… maybe

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I wrote an email, somewhat scathing in tone, a few days ago. Entirely justified at the time, I thought. I felt I was being unduly taken advantage of, that the prospective recipient of the email was intentionally obstructive and perhaps malicious, at best unthinking and uncaring. Well, I had to defend myself, don’t I? I am entitled, don’t I? And anyone who knew the circumstances would see this and I would be justified in my action.

But no one saw this email. I did not send it.

My tapping away at the keyboard was cathartic, but catharsis could only go so far in making the situation “right”.

Thankfully, one of my habits is to never send an email drafted during an emotional flux.

Taking a large step back from the finished (but then unsent) email, these were what I realised:

  • Obviously, I was emotional. Of its own, perfectly acceptable and normal. But what happened when the emotions took over …
  • I turned inward and my mind took over. My thoughts revealed me at a low ebb – “I was being unduly taken advantage of”? Really? Have I in that one thought buy into a belief that I was a victim? That I had no say in this? Have I in that one thought about to give way my power?
  • Then, the construction of the “baddie” who was “intentionally obstructive”, “malicious”, “unthinking and uncaring”? This is judgment with a capital ‘J’. I’ll grant that my thoughts, being the rational person that I am, could be correct. Or they might not. But in the moments when I was drafting that email, my mind was closed to any other possibility. It was closed such that I (unconsciously) chose not to see an alternate perspective.
  • And really, what did it matter, if she was or was not? I was there to solve a “problem” not to make judgments about another’s motivations. Why would my actions be guided by anything other than respect for another human being, integrity and compassion?
  • Moving forward in a positive manner requires me to maintain a constructive relationship, moving forward requires me to let go of any and all of the history that could bind me, moving forward requires me to be able to look at myself in the mirror and not cringe or feel compelled to be defensive.
  • And that little voice in my head (?) or my heart said, “you are better than this.”

We have been there, this “feeling small” and “feeling helpless” place.

We have imagined the architects of our misery, rubbing their hands in glee with a malicious grin and gloating.

Well, in those moments we have also handed over responsibility for our self to another and blaming them for not looking after or caring or loving us.

So, this story ended with a phone call, expressing my concerns and being open to a response. The response – the words at least – was as I had expected but there was something else. The response was not “intentionally obstructive”, not “malicious”, not “uncaring”, perhaps a little “unthinking”. Okay, I can live with this, for now. And I (or my ego) would like to say that I had modeled an attitude and a behaviour which hopefully encourage reciprocity. Only time will tell.

What matters most to me is that, it felt right, it felt good, as the email if sent would not.

The lessons, which I keep close to me?

  • Be open to different perspectives and possibilities. There is a world beyond our experiences.
  • Proceed with the empowered self. Our words and actions will reflect this.
  • Let go. We can’t control the future.

 

Namaste.

~ FlorenceT

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Love relationships for Valentine’s Day

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On such a day, I am compelled to write. But of what?

I could write about

  • the commercialism of this day known as Valentine’s Day
  • love renewed because of the call of Valentine’s Day
  • affection expressed when compelled by Valentine’s Day
  • faith in another inspired by Valentine’s Day
  • romanticism, cynic or believer, occasioned by Valentine’s Day
  • the many creative products from the idea of love which inspires Valentine’s Day
  • going through the day unaffected by Valentine’s Day
  • those who are hurt or disappointed on this day and why
  • those who find meaning on this symbolic day.

Love exists in a myriad of relationships, not just those of a romantic nature which seems to be the focus of Valentine’s Day.

So for today, an exploration of love in relationships through meaningful quotes. Perhaps you will find one which resonates within.

Motherhood: All love begins and ends there. ~ Robert Browning

 

Do I want to be a hero to my son? No. I would like to be a very real human being. That’s hard enough.  ~ Robert Downey, Jr.

 

The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy. ~ Sam Levenson

 

We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.  ~Orson Welles

 

The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. ~ Benjamin Disraeli

 

Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea. ~ Robert A. Heinlein

 

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another. ~ Thomas Merton

 

To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float. ~ Alan Watts

 

None of these is possible, unless we are in a love relationship with ourselves, as it is a necessary foundation upon which other relationships flourish.

Don’t wait for someone to bring you flowers.
Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul.
~ Maria Quintana

 

Whether Valentine’s Day is significant to you or just another day, it means something.

May you have courage to romance yourself, love all that you are.


~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

Darker, by fifty shades?

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The text message read (in part):

“Ok who’s keen? Note it is next week!!!!…. We will follow this with a debriefing over drinks…”

I replied ‘me’ and why not? I am honestly curious as to how it will be. On a social side, how could I refuse the opportunity to catch up with a few girlfriends and watch “Fifty Shades Darker” on Ladies’ Night at the cinema :-)? On a ‘serious’ side, this is me engaging with pop culture? 🙂

The novelty of “Fifty Shades” seems to have worn off, or at least the upcoming release of this sequel hasn’t created the uproar as Fifty Shades of Grey’s release in 2015. So much so that I wrote a post on LitWorldInterviews protesting about the protest.

Perhaps I am speaking prematurely. The movie will officially be released on 9 February 2017 here in Australia, so let’s wait and see what the movie reviewers and social commentators have to say.

In the meantime, I am up for the lighter (or is it darker?) side of life, a laugh and giggle with girlfriends at the romanticized collision of the BDSM and fairy tale worlds.

Now, what would I say to questions such as these?

Why would she let him do that?

What is so appealing about Christian?

Can’t she see he’s just all about him, or is he?

What would you say to Ana if she was your daughter?

Ouch, right?

Does Christian’s childhood really turn him into someone with such sexual proclivities?

Is it real love or is it…?

And how could he still be friends with Elena after what she’s done to him?

Was Christian really a victim to Elena?

I am anticipating these questions because I have read the trilogy. I have little doubt these questions will feature in our ‘debriefing’ post-movie.

What are your answers?

And perhaps I will ‘report’ on the movie experience once I have watched it. I can only hope the movie plot line has improved since the previous one was rather ‘light’ on this front.

What the heck, I’ll just go for the ride and have fun! 🙂

 

With curiosity,

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2017 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.

The politics of water

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“There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says “Morning, boys. How’s the water?”

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes “What the hell is water?”

This well-known Buddhist story told by Alan Watts at the 2005 commencement address at Kenyon College have always resonated with me, in many contexts.

I had said, “I don’t like politics”, “I don’t do politics”, “I am not political”… and while the first remains true, I have come to re-consider my place in my mind, in my world about the latter.

I AM in water, rife with politics and I am impacted by it, like it or not. Perhaps I am at the lower end of the spectrum for the level of participation, yet there is no avoiding it. In fact, for every post, every tweet of gender equality, human rights, I am being political. I am glad to name it. Another self-awakening of a 40-something woman. 🙂

This realisation comes from recent events, namely the lead up to the now Trump Presidency and the Women’s March around the world. It is easy to say, as I have heard from others, that ‘they’ are about America thus none of our (Australians) business or the marches are anti-Trump rather than about women’s rights or they are exercises in futility. Hey, I even attempted to embrace these notions to arrest the listlessness and unease.

Yet it does not bring me peace.

There is a shift in global consciousness, signalled by the uneasiness and anger that I (and many others judging by the response to the Women’s March) feel despite being so far away from the source of the triggering events. The notions of ‘them’ and ‘us’, of ‘not this but that’ no longer hold water, we the people are connected, more so now than ever, and we in all we say and do influence and impact on each other, we are humanity as one.

So my response and the lessons from the recent events are these, expressed through those who came before:

Life is a circle. The end of one journey is the beginning of the next. ~ Joseph M Marshall III

We must recognize that the suffering of one person or one nation is the suffering of humanity. ~ Dalai Lama

Each of us is responsible for everything and to every human being. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Careful the things you say,
Children will listen.
Careful the things you do,
Children will see and learn.

Children will look to you
For which way to turn,
To learn what to be.

Careful the spell you cast,
Not just on children.                           ~ Barbra Streisand, “Children Will Listen”

 

Oh, and I have no answer, and I suspect there is no ‘Answer’.  We have done things in fear no matter what it is called, what not try love? What have we to lose?

Life is for living; it is movement, constant and every-changing. Let it be a movement inspired by love.

Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Do not despair if the answers don’t come immediately. Some answers are only revealed with the passage of time.

Try to love the questions themselves. Do not look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually without even noticing it, find yourself experiencing the answer, some distant day.

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

All along my denial of the political self, I now realise, is not about politics per se, but rather the politics of division, of hate, of exclusion… and even as I am reconciling to the fact “politics” is being played on me and vice –versa, this remains true – love and compassion, understanding and collaboration shall be my beacon. Though I may at times fail, these I strive to be.

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion. ~ Simone de Beauvoir

One way or another, we all have to find what best fosters the flowering of our humanity in this contemporary life, and dedicate ourselves to that.

~ Joseph Campbell

I am in water.

Namaste!

~ FlorenceT

 

© 2016 FlorenceT Copyright reserved. The author asserts her moral and legal rights over this work.