The Canvas, And What You Do With It

When we were kids, we thrived on getting a new blank canvas to start painting on. Or a new notebook. A new puzzle to put together. A fountain pen. A trip to the park.  A visit from Grandma. Learning to make pancakes. There was always something to look forward to, and everything seemed easy. Even if it presented some sort of challenge – we were certainly up for it, with open hearts and open minds.

So why have we turned our backs on our innate ability to look a challenge in the eyes and say, “I can do this”?

It seems so much time and energy gets misdirected on talking about our problems, instead of actually resolving them. Too many people thrive on this, and it’s a shame. And yet it can be very easy to get caught up in that dynamic when surrounded by others who mostly discuss their issues with no real focus on how to resolve them. In fact, I wonder what the carbon footprint is for talking crap these days – I’m sure the results would be shocking.

When I try to explain to some people how even the words we use can affect the outcome of our intentions, they look at me with evident confusion and doubt. They cannot envision how saying, “I want peace,” is better than “I don’t want drama,” because somehow to them, “I don’t want drama,” implies that they want peace – yet, that is not what they are saying. With so many people talking this same ‘language’ it is no wonder that things tend to work out less favourably.

The energy we share is akin to the way we breathe. If we sit huddled over ourselves all day, our ability to breathe becomes limited, and we feel less motivated, less interested. Yet if we pull our shoulders back and breathe in a healthy lungful of air, our attitude changes; so too does the flow of things around us. Go on, try it.

When people say ignorance is bliss, it truly can be… as long as we are not living in denial of our responsibilities, and by responsibilities, I mean with ourselves. It is also very easy to shift our focus towards external demands as opposed to internal necessities, and the danger lies in letting these so-called responsibilities dictate our lives, putting up walls of excuses between our inner inspiration and the passion to make things happen.

I can say hand on heart that this past year has been my most challenging so far, on many levels. Whilst I am grateful for the love, support and friendships that I have been blessed with in this time, there has been a lot of struggle to overcome obstacles, reach new levels of understanding, and generally remember that choices made are neither good nor bad, merely lessons to move along the path of life, even if we hurt or get hurt.

I have joked in recent months that my learning curve has been so steep I needed grappling hooks. Since I’ve always loved the idea of climbing mountains, the analogy seems fitting.

And that is what I am used to – making things happen and ‘climbing mountains’. Scaling new rocks and reaching the pinnacle, only to look back and remind myself of where I have come from, how far, and how much I have achieved. It is amazing, even with the hardships. I encourage you to do the same for yourself.

Wherever you are, take a few minutes to look back, thank and forgive others for what you have experienced with them. Most importantly, thank and forgive yourself. Remember that while so many other people’s lives have been literally destroyed by physical earthquakes, it is amazing to be alive, breathing, whole, here, and now. Even if you’re not quite where you’d rather be, you’re probably where you’re meant to be. If your best friend managed to finish the triathlon and you’re still on the treadmill building up stamina, it’s alright. You’ll get there when it’s time.

Tomorrow it may stop raining, you may have more money in your pocket, you may find the person you will spend the rest of your life with. But remember within all of that, it is you who makes your life what it is. You who choose to be happy, you who choose to aspire to a better self, you who share the wealth of your soul with others, you who go to sleep with your thoughts regardless of who might lie beside you.

And when you wake up in the morning, welcome yourself back to this existence. Whatever direction you take in life, you can change your mind at any time, but always try to change it for the better, even when faced with adversity from others (they won’t always understand you). Allow yourself the freedom to pick up a new canvas in life, large or small, and embrace the possibilities of what you can do with it. After all, what do the first three letters of the word  ‘canvas’ tell you?

On that note, better get some more chalk…

Amazing – Seal (watch the video)

Everyone says you’re amazing

You say you don’t know, how to do it now,
So you run,
It’s not that you’re bleeding, but you through it now,
So you run, so you run,
I know that you need it, you can’t live alone,
So you run, so you run…

Everyone says you’re amazing
Now that you’re clean
Only you know who the real one are, cause you’ve seen
There is only one question I want to ask, is it healing when you’re here
Everyone see you’re amazing

Does anyone ask you?

If you cry in your sleep and do you feel okay
When you run,
Thinking its doomsday, you got to let it go,
So you run, so you run…

Pretend you don’t see it, that way we can live the lie, when you run…
So you run..

Everyone says you’re amazing
Now that you’re clean
Only you know who the real one are, cause you’ve seen
There is only one question I want to ask, is it healing when, when you’re hear
Everyone see you’re amazing

Does anyone ask you…?
Cause I know that you real, amazing, amazing, amazing…

Everyone says you’re amazing
Now that you’re clean
Only you know who the real ones are, because you’ve seen
There is only one question I want to ask, is it healing when you’re hear
Everyone sees you’re amazing

Everyone says amazing
You’re amazing
(I want you to always feel amazing)
You’re amazing
(I want you to always feel amazing)
You’re amazing

In the Absence of Dialogue

Sometimes, we meet people with whom we connect incredibly fast. They inspire us, and hopefully we inspire them. We have fun and we have serious conversations. We listen and learn together. We look out for each other, and at the same time we seek each other out.

Then, as time goes by – sometimes too quickly for our own personal satisfaction and subsequent disappointment – the relationship between us whittles to nothing. Time, ‘life’, circumstances, a change of energies and emotions… anything can affect the way we were yesterday and the way we will be tomorrow.

You try to understand them, respecting their space if that is what they ask of you. But if they are not forthcoming afterwards, there is only so much you can do before it tarnishes your heart and soul. You tell yourself this is just another growing pain, and march on stoically doing your best to fight the good fight.

You sense that the bridge may be burning, crumbling under your feet… but nobody tells you why. Who started the fire? Who should have been there to put it out? And what do you do with the pile of ashes that remains?

You wish them love and happiness, because you care. You do your best to show them compassion even though you may cry yourself to sleep at night out of frustration and confusion. You may never know what happened, or they might finally tell you 25 years later.

Forgive them, for they may be elsewhere in life and decided that you are not one to partake in their journeys – and for some reason they are not willing or able to tell you this. Forgive them, for perhaps life has decided that you are only to spend a very limited time in each other’s presence, and although the experiences may have been short-lived, the lessons learned will be with you forever. Forgive them, because maybe they will join your ranks again in the future, and you will welcome them with open arms to share your war stories in renewed awe of each other.

But in the meantime, because of the warmth of the burning embers in your chest, which is the only tangible thing you carry within… you thank them for all those little moments so far, leave the door open in case they wish to return, and then… you let them go.

Out of Sight…Out of Mind?

I used to attend a writer’s workshop in which I was generally the youngest member by a good 10 years minimum. The group was full of foreigners who had settled in this little part of Spain, from of all walks of life, and certainly with different mindsets – the only common denominator being our interest to fill blank pieces of paper with something somebody would care to read.I remember one particular Englishman, who once expressed his amusing habit of treating people like items in a desk drawer. Every Wednesday morning, when it was time to go to the workshop, he would pull us out of this imaginary drawer of his and place us around the table again, reading, writing, observing… until it was time for us to go our separate ways and he would then place us back in that drawer as he remembered us that day, until the cycle began again the following week.

And it is funny, how we have this tendency to put each other away for some time if we’re not in close contact. Of course it is easier to deal with people more frequently when they live within walking distance, or within a local telephone call. But the times are changing, and with all the communications facilities we now have at our fingertips (pun intended), I often wonder why we still don’t seem to communicate as much as we could. Almost as if having so many options freezes our ability to actually utilise them.

I have friends close by and overseas, who I rarely speak to because of awkward timings or randomised work commitments – but we have the luxury of mobile phones, MSN or Facebook to take a sneak peek at how we’re doing. A little ‘nudge’ or a friendly virtual sucker punch to say, “Hey, I’m still thinking about you.” Obviously, I’d much prefer a full conversation, but I can deal with these crumbs to know that they’re still there and they’re alright – and even if they’re not, they’re just a few keystrokes away.

Naturally, the telephone and the Internet can never fully replace real human interaction, like sitting at the same café table gazing at the same passersby, judging the judges of the X Factor, or comforting each other when life hits us from angles we never knew existed… but (call me a dreamer if you like) distance is no longer an excuse not to keep in touch nowadays and share some of these moments and emotions. This way, the next time we meet up there’s hardly any time spent on the typical, “What have you been doing for the last 6 months?!” and we can simply get on with enjoying our time together.So write that email, pick up the phone, log into Skype, send a text message… Stop procrastinating on the people that matter (or open the door to those waiting on the outside who might leave you pleasantly surprised), and keep the conversation flowing. Who knows? Life is full of strange twists and turns, and you might never see them again. Spare yourself the bitter taste of regrets and ‘what ifs’.

All of My LifePhil Collins

All of my life, I’ve been searching
For the words to say how I feel.
I’d spend my time thinking too much
And leave too little to say what I mean
I’ve tried to understand the best I can
All of my life.

All of my life, I’ve been saying sorry
For the things I know I should have done
All the things I could have said come back to me
Sometimes I wish that it had just begun
Seems I’m always that little too late
All of my life

Set ’em up, I’ll take a drink with you
Pull up a chair, I think I’ll stay
Set ’em up, cos I’m going nowhere
There’s too much I need to remember, too much I need to say

All of my life, I’ve been looking
But it’s hard to find the way
Reaching past the goal in front of me
While what’s important just slips away
It doesn’t come back but I’ll be looking
All of my life

Set ’em up…

All of my life, there have been regrets
That I didn’t do all I could
Making records upstairs, while he watched tv
I didn’t spend the time I should
It’s a memory I will live with
All of my life.