Friday, July 15, 2016

Becoming Questions Number 12 - here are the reflective ANSWERS

Becoming Question 12
Last Sunday I asked this question and now I offer you powerful authentic real reflective answers.
I am privileged to be part of this.

This was the Becoming Question I asked::

Question number 8 was affirming you that your life deserves a book - a biography.
Your inner journey and your physical journey, both unique, would make great BECOMING reading.
Relating my question to that book of yours (forthcoming?) I ask
*Could you give me the title of one of the chapters in the book of your life story?
AND WHY you have chosen this chapter and this title?*

Becoming Question 12 - ANSWERS here::

My chapter title would be DENIAL
the night my mum passed away is the most traumatic thing I have ever had to face. Being on my own with her when she suffered a massive brain haemorrhage was horrific. I came home at 4 in the morning to an empty house and laid on top of my mothers bed where it happened denying that God exists. I cried myself to sleep. About an hour later I awoke to find a small bright light hovering above my chest. I said hello and gently closed my eyes again. I suddenly felt this great warmth wrap me in my duvet as if someone was cuddling me. I went to sleep. When I woke the next morning I was still lying on top of the bed on top of the bed clothes. My faith suddenly returned. 

Like this one too, think the chapter would be called 'laughed out of the interview' all about my initial application to work at emerge, when one of the yp on the panel nearly had to be removed because the sight of me in my suit was so amusing... (Fair enough really). It's an interesting story about believing in yourself though, which I'm not naturally amazing at but my time at e: went on to teach me much much more. Having worries about even applying for a job who's advert said 99%of people wouldn't be up to the task, given the level of commitment many had towards challenging communities, I was already feeling insecure, but actually the interview with the yp ultimately went really well. However, I didn't actually get the job, but on the advice of my lovely college tutor I rang and said as I'd been impressed could I come and do a placement - another move that was not characteristically me, especially given I'd already been turned down once.....
Anyway, long story short a few days into the placement I was offered a permanent job at emerge, and there began 9 amazing years of inspiring and being inspired! The extra smile in the story is that the young person who got the giggles basically got my job when I moved on last year and is still doing amazing things himself now....
And there began my greatest lesson in believing in myself and helping others to do likewise!
Thanks again mate, this has been really helpful at a moment when I'm on the brink of something new again!

The title of  the chapter is Awakening, because One of the most life affirming/saving events of my life was when I went through a an awakening process that completely changed the direction/trajectory of my life and everything  that I have in my life to be grateful for, material and non material stemmed from that event.
It Sprung to mind as soon as I read the question so I chose it.
No Name

Reboot number One

After several years of being a difficult teenager, my friend Boz invited me to a camp during the summer. He mentioned church and girls. One of those caught my attention. 
I travelled to Malvern and enjoyed the atmosphere. By the end of the first evening, I had handed my life over to Jesus for the first time and felt a huge weight of failure removed from my shoulders.
Over the following week I discovered what being a Christian meant. I saw healings, learnt how to pray and developed a personal relationship with God.
When I returned home, everyone asked what had happened. I had changed visibly. People who had known me at school were astonished. I had gone from the sarcastic, loner boy to becoming a positive young man. 

A chapter of my life would be called "Me vs My 'Self'". I am at war with my 'Self' everyday hence why I have chosen this chapter. I doubt myself & make myself feel terrible. I feel like everything is my fault & that despite what people say, I am truly a burden on them - & recently this has proven to be true. It is their kindness that ignores that my presence is an issue, which ends up getting them into trouble.I try to find time to switch off but when I do I'm alone with these thoughts & cry as I have caused a problem to someone I respect.This is an ongoing battle that I endure but recently the pain has escalated. To ensure I deflect as much attention as I can I smile & try to brighten up the mood to make others feel okay. 

My chapter would be BBQ at 1am and Hank Marvin from the Shadows. This chapter would be about the Easter unwrapped event which grew as a mixture of workshops and drama around the true meaning of Easter that was run in the YMCA Hostel. This included a BBQ at 1am. resulting in taking residents on the roof and watching the sun come up on Good Friday as the event was run during the night on Maunday Thursday. This spiritual moment of the Crucifixion and the everything that lead upo to it being discussed and experienced by a group of residents that would not choose to spend their lives sharing this experience with the other residents was very moving. The link with Hank Marvin from the Shadows was his son who was one of my residents. He was Dean Marvin and was a good resident. I remember the day that i discovered him dead on his bed. It was a shock to so many as I comforted residents and staff, gave statements to the police and even escorted the body out of the Hostel. I liaised with the family. That was one of the longest days of my life. I wasn't in the next day and the Hostel was swarmed by the press with my Chief Exec on the news at lunch time.
I had a letter of thanks from the family for all I had done and the fact that they wished I could have been at the funeral but they were worried about the press turning up. Even as I write this the day and the events are still in my mind and my feelings.

I’m struggling at the moment. Our loss of our Arthur has hit us both very very hard. I wondered if it would be okay to write about him in our lives? Seems appropriate at the moment. Would that be okay. Sorry I am late again but it has been so difficult and I’ve cried so much it has exhausted me. it will be about people in my life that have come across my pathway and changed my life as I have helped to change there life. 'WALKING TOGETHER'! or 'WALKING SIDE BY SIDE'. 

In answer to you question about what would you say if someone asked you “How are you?” No one asked me that week. They did ask me this week: My answer was “I’m heartbroken!” 

I think each chapter of my book would start with either a quote or song lyrics, and be titled accordingly! So, I am sharing about one particular chapter…
“I know the feeling
Of finding yourself stuck on the ledge
And there ain’t no healing
From cutting yourself with the jagged edge
I’m telling you that it’s never that bad
And take it from someone who’s been where you’re at
You’re laid out on the floor and you’re not sure
You can take this anymore

So just give it one more try
With a lullaby
And turn this up on the radio
If you can hear me now
I’m reachin’ out to let you know
That you’re not alone

And you can’t tell, I’m scared as hell
‘Cause I can’t get you on the telephone
So just close your eyes
Well honey here comes a lullaby
Your very own lullaby
Please let me take you
Out of the darkness and into the light
‘Cause I have faith in you
That you’re gonna make it through another night
Stop thinkin’ about the easy way out
There’s no need to go and blow the candle out
Because you’re not done, you’re far too young
And the best is yet to come

So just give it one more try
With a lullaby
And turn this up on the radio
If you can hear me now
I’m reachin’ out to let you know
That you’re not alone

And you can’t tell, I’m scared as hell
‘Cause I can’t get you on the telephone
So just close your eyes
Well honey here comes a lullaby
Your very own lullaby

Well everybody’s hit the bottom
And everyone’s been forgotten
Well everybody’s tired of being alone
Yeah everyone’s been abandoned
So if you’re out there barely hangin’ on

Just give it one more try
With a lullaby
And turn this up on the radio
If you can hear me now
I’m reachin’ out to let you know
That you’re not alone

And you can’t tell, I’m scared as hell
‘Cause I can’t get you on the telephone
So just close your eyes
Well honey here comes a lullaby
Your very own lullaby
Well honey here comes a lullaby
Your very own lullaby”
Nickelback- Lullaby
Whilst this song was not written at the time of the chapter, it sums up well what I would be writing about. 22 years old, in the late 1990’s, having survived another suicide attempt, I found myself scared and alone in a psychiatric hospital. Body cut to shreds with a stanley knife, stomach duly pumped of all pills, I sat on the floor in a room where the windows didn’t open, the bed was plastic and a nurse had just checked my sanitary towels to see if there was anything hidden in them. Petrified of where I was and never having felt so alone, I cried for hours, interrupted every few minutes by the suicide watch person, who never said anything, just opened the door to see if I was breathing.
I think this was probably the lowest point in my life, and took me some years to recover from. But in finding my own darkness, the rock bottom I had sunk to, I somehow came out very much alive, and more able to help others in a similar situation. These hospitals can be frightening places for young women, especially with others prone to loud or violent outbursts, but I live to tell this tale! I work to help others not reach these depths, so the book does get better as you read the whole thing, but I think this is an important part for people to see how broken people can change, and add value to the world around them!
No Name

"LIVING INSIDE THE BOX" will be the title of an early chapter in my memoir.  The only home my parents owned was a 10 x 50  trailer (I think they're called "caravans" in the UK). We weren't itinerant: our trailer was permanently set up on two acres of land that my mother inherited from an uncle. It was a lovely way to grow up in the early 60s, and it was only when I started school when I realized that I was the exception among my classmates (who were more curious and fascinated than judgmental about my living situation). It wasn't the average experience in the rural suburbs of Chattanooga, Tennessee, at the time.

CHAPTER:: 'All My Life's a Circle'

Last evening, as the camp settled into stillness and the campers slipped into slumber, I walked hand in hand with my love up from the cabin to the dining hall.  Smiling. Together.  Tired after a full day of coordinating, counselling, leading, consoling, feeding, listening, answering enquiries.........I didn't get that canoe paddle in like I had planned.  Hmmmm..... I didn't find that hour to write.  Hmmmmmm........ I missed out on that bedtime ritual of "Rose and Thorns" with the 10 year old group of girls.  But they understood.  I was needed somewhere else, and I will get there tonight....."I promise...."
No matter.  I felt a sense of accomplishment, and more importantly, a head to toe sense of being in the right place with the man I love.  He feels the same and tells me we welcomed the moment of hand holding peace, under the stars, accompanied by the sound of the Loons flying into the bay, to their nest.  I heard him tell me he loves me. In a whisper, in his voice so familiar, so affirming.  His voice remained a constant in my head for the 30 years we were apart, living separate lives.........
Years the '70's ...when we were the same age as the Camp Counsellors who live and work with us now, we walked hand in hand.  We shared dreams and feelings.  We spoke of the future of running a camp of our own.  In a more awkward way, we expressed our love for one another.  One of the musicians we enjoyed listening to at the time was Harry Chapin.  He was a storyteller singer who wrote folk songs about people and relationships. A large portion of the money he earned giving concerts went to support various organisations, including one that helped feed the world.  World Hunger Association.  He was a conduit for many to understand the issues of the day.  Harry Chapin was a hero of mine, and he wrote a song that continues to be "my song....."  I taught it to the campers when I was 20 years old and it continued to be sung at my old camp during most Sunday Chapels.  
The chorus...........
All my Life's a Circle,
Sunrise and Sundown
The Moon rose through the nighttime,
Til the daybreak comes around.
All My Life's a Circle
And I can't tell you why
Seasons spinning round again
and the Years keep rolling by………
Without a doubt, a chapter in my book would be the title of Harry's song..........and the story would be of two people who fell in love as teenagers, left each other to learn and to love others, to have children, to create separate lives that were productive and fulfilling to a point....... And then, like a full circle, we return to the place where we belong......walking hand in hand, under the stars, after a long day working together creating a place of magical freedom for children who are learning how to be themselves.......
"I found you a thousand times, I guess you've done the same......
But then we lose each other, it's just like a children's game.....
And as I found you here again, the thoughts run through my mind,
Our love is like a circle, let's go around one more time……”

One chapter would be called 'How did this happen?'

This question I ask myself all the time and it covers both negative and positive experiences. 
I asked this question when I had the opportunity to go on a pilgrimage. 
I asked this question when my reputation as a teacher grew and I felt true love from my students.
I ask this question when a simple person like me is shown so much respect.
I ask this question when people want to spend time with me, even though I consider myself boring.
I ask this question when I get accused of certain negative things and my integrity is questioned.

One of my chapters would be called “Escape to the beach” 
Because of the many significant moments there have been walking along the beach, talking, deciding the future, laughing, crying, thinking of running away, figuring things out, sitting alone, or next to someone looking out to sea, conversations that have shaped thoughts and unravelled feelings. Plans, dreams and difficult stuff. Skimming stones, throwing stones to knock other stones over, barbeques and camp fires, parties. Exploring, searching for hidden treasure, digging holes and making castles and wonder at hidden forests revealed after recent storms. Romantic moments, amazing sunsets and wild wild weather.

My chapter would be 'Being invisible in a busy place', because sometimes that's how I feel, the whole world is happening round me and I don't feel able to interact, or no-one seems to notice I'm there, or sometimes I'm there in body, I appear to be present, but in reality I'm far away in my thoughts... Or just trying to not be there at all! 

One of the chapters in my life story would be "Walking with Strangers"
At one point in my life lots of the people who i knew well fell away. It was just too tough to be around during a very messy time and no one appeared to know what to say .... constructively anyway. So people appeared to be saying nothing and not being around much either. Which was very lonely.
But not being someone who easily wanders through life alone + being in a right old pickle = the people who started to talk some sense to me were...strangers. People who i had never met before. Folk who didn't know my situation, could just see my face. Strangers who shared my journey, for a while. And for a while they held a torch so that i could see again, could learn how to really look and see what was going on. And then make some sensible changes.
I've chosen this chapter as this was at a  time when i had made one or two seriously appalling choices and was endanger of reaping the rewards of them. Mercifully, thanks to one or two total strangers, this did not happen. Life turned the corner. Serendipitous happenings happened. Nonsense was kicked into touch.  Life got much better.
No Name

My chapter heading is:
“Finding a place where I felt at home……my time in prison”
A new minister arrived at the church we attended in 2007.  He was very quickly appointed chaplain of the island prison.
He asked us if we would assist him in a voluntary role, and very quickly we were given keys to the prison wings,
And were soon running the Sunday afternoon chapel sessions.
I went part time at my work and spent many hours on the wings getting to know quite a few of the men,
Just sitting chatting or playing games with them. Listening to music together, being real and open together.
I loved their honesty – so different to church.
They seemed to enjoy the Sunday interactive chapel sessions
The highlight was when a few of them played as a band, with our wonderful friend George (who went to heaven too quick),
With the majority of the prison population turning up.
One of them lost a best mate in a motorcycle accident and we held a dubstep memorial: Burial’s “wayfaring stranger” is a moving tune.
We lit candles for lost friends…..
..even setting off the fire alarm once during a service J
…..stuck real prayers on the walls (“Me and Susan sitting in a tree together”).
 … wife went on to set up a totally new family visits programme in the prison (but that is her chapter)…..
 My time came to an end.  I made a mistake, when trying to help a prisoner, so my visiting rights were curtailed…..
…..then church politics kicked in… rather than representing the church…..I was cut adrift as a lone sailor…..
….then had to return to full time work as we had cash flow problems…..
 I hope to be back ‘home’ – in some shape of form – in the future.


CHAPTER TITLE::  ‘Legs Amputated'
I was working in Inner City East End of London. 
Working lively/lovely young people & 
gangs of kids giving my all. 
Beyond breaking point. 
Demanding it was.
Giving it was. 
Living on the edge of resilience.
While all at the same time… 
my mother was about to enter hospital to have her legs amputated. 
Here I was in East London 
Then the most deprived community in the nation
Then with the highest crime rate in the nation
Then with 80% local youth unemployment
Then my work/job/MISSION was working with beautiful humans 
some who were deep into crime and enjoying violence, 
others struggling make their way - no work - no money.
Up north in the UK, in St Helens, my mother was due to enter hospitalover 200 miles away.
One evening I was sat near the snooker table in the Youth Club. 
Back to the wall. 
(I always, in every location, sit with my back to the wall)
The young humans I work with
had heard about my mother's situation, 
and of what was about to happen. 
I guess other Youth Workers had shared the facts amongst them.
I was subdued that evening,
not my usual bustling,
bouncy and 
verbal self.
As I sat with my back to the wall near to the snooker table
- something I will never forget happened. 
One of the toughest young men around, and a gang member,
started to slowly walk around the snooker table past me -
a number of times 
passing me each time. 
Walking ever so slow - walking ever so close - 
but not stopping never speaking.
Then, as he walked past me again, 
without stopping,
he just gently stroked my hair away from my forehead 
and walked on.
Then, at that point, 
is when the sobs rose from my chest 
and exploded in my head. 
I felt it... that one act of beautiful tenderness.
As I click these keys now, 
I wipe away tears from my eyes.
I choked because I was at a depth of vulnerability. 
I felt it deeply and personally I connected with my deepest feelings.
Also it was because in this act 
I was the silent partner 
being blessed by an act of non-verbal sensitivity by this young man. 
Gentleness and kindness pouring out of an inarticulate frame, 
of a tough and violent young man in his early twenties.
I remembered it now and it moves my soul. 
I learned a lot from that incident of care. 
That incident was not MY chosen moment of vulnerability. 
But I learned that it is a mistake to see vulnerability as a weakness. 
Vulnerability is a strength not a weakness.
Most times it comes at us with no choice.
Sometimes we can choose it.
I believe it is best to do that.
It is part of being authentic.
So I remember my Mother
Our Mother.
So tough in many ways.
Bringing up four sons during the war.
So generous in giving to others.
A Beautiful Human.

bBlessed in your Becoming …………