At least, you know his name

At the fringe of the world

where rampant darkness lives,

and foot-fall runs

from searchlight’s glare,

a lifeless statue sits.

Grey dust plastered on by hate.

 

He’s five years old.

And on the edge of power,

the mothers of the world

have gathered round to watch,

as long as he has lived,

to wring their hands

with tearful fears,

their eyes wide open to

what man can do to man.

 

The statue’s past

was bombed and blasted

into shards

that whipped and ripped

his brother’s future

from a family’s heart.

While he, freeze-framed, swims

through no-man’s fogs

that makes it fearful to remember,

more dangerous to forget.

 

Thick skinned with daily life

of unread books

and monsters educated

in the art of war,

of barrel bombs that rain

Confettied buildings, people, cats,

he moves

to touch

the warming ooze

that’s on his head

(the ketchup’s red).

Then starts,

and scrapes the chilling madness

of death’s playground

onto white helmet’s safety’s seat.

 

The tearless frozen statue sits.

No lullabies of sirens

were whispered in his ear.

No prelude to this solo non-performance

in the spotlights of

our hashtag havens

for his fifteen minutes of unwanted fame.

Omran.

At least, at least

you know his name.

 

© Caroline Johnstone 2016

What have YOU done to make the world more beautiful today?

 

A cow and a house by the sea

I was sitting in church today and our minister said that when she was little, she told her dad that all she wanted when she was older was to own a cow and live by the sea. She said that she hadn’t persuaded her husband to put a cow in the garden – yet, but that she had managed to live by the sea for most of her life.

And one more thing

Then she said her father had said that she needed one more thing for her list. Whatever else she wanted to do, she needed to want the world more beautiful. Wow, I thought. A wise man. If everyone in the world had that as their aim, how would it change? If I had this as my aim, how would I change?

Making the world more beautiful

I’d be more thoughtful, remembering what mattered to others. I’d use my creativity to bring beauty and joy to others. I’d leave old relationships with more love, I’d live new relationships with wiser, deeper love. I’d watch where I shop, I’d reduce all my rubbish, I’d pick up the rubbish from streams and from roadsides. I’d look after this earth for the next generation, and plant trees, flowers and food. I’d be kinder to those I know – and be randomly kind to strangers. I’d give what I can to those who have need of it. I’d ensure that my home was a haven of order and beauty. I’d remember to stop and stare at a sunset. Or see how a tree buds in spring. I’d make sure my clothes were all mended and smart, I’d throw out what no longer fits me and make a new start. I’d appreciate freedom, and make sure I voted. I’d do what makes MY heart sing, as I know that allows others to do the same. I’d point others to hope.

What will YOU do to make the world more beautiful?

My home is a peaceful haven (even in January)

“My home is a peaceful haven and I feel safe and loved.” Louise Hay

I’ve spent the most lovely weekend with my family and extended family.  On New Year’s Eve as we stood in a circle singing “Yon Bonny Banks” I could have burst with happiness.  And last night (well, about 1.30 a.m), Lee and I were talking about how good our lives are, and how much we have to be grateful for as we enter 2012, and that we might be in the minority of people in the world who feel that way.   Home is where my heart is, and I’m so grateful now to live in a happy, peaceful home. 

Change starts with little things

Which is not to say it’s perfect – we are human, and the house itself needs some work done.  Just little things, but in 2012, we will make those changes – that bedroom carpet I hate will get changed, the bathroom will have the bath boxed in and a new shower panel put up, the dining room will have the shelves put in that I want, and we might change the floors in the kitchen and utility rooms.  Little things that need done that could so easily be done.  That’s a good metaphor for life, really – it’s the small changes that make our life better after all.

Our haven, our cocoon

Even with these things that could be changed, our home remains perfect enough to be our haven, a cocoon from the madder and busier outside world.  I love my friends passionately and love spending time with them, connecting with them, being challenged by them, or supporting and encouraging them when they need it, as they do with me; but it pales against the passion I feel for my home now, and the peace and joy I know there.  (And I qualify that with the truth I learned in 2006/7 that if I lost that house tomorrow, I know it’s only a house as what matters is the people in it, and I know I can create a home wherever I want to do that.  I can do the same with a haven).

Creating your haven

One day, I’ll run “The Haven” as a retreat from a madder world – but for now, I’ll create my own haven as that longer journey begins here.  If you want your own haven, you will have to put some initial work in.  De-cluttering is vital – throw out what is no longer useful or attractive to you (or pass it on, as beauty is in the eye of the beholder).  De-clutter the closets and drawers as well; don’t hide stuff away behind closed doors – it is stil there, and still draining your energy.  Everything in your house should be there because it brings you happiness, either through memories connected to it, because of the fact it makes your life easier, or because it brings pleasure to your senses, so critically examine your belongings through those filters.  And as you take stuff away, decide to fill any spaces that are left with what brings you joy.  This does not need to be costly – it takes time and imagination, but you can even use other’s “junk” to do this, or you can go to many of the budget home places and find what you need easily.

Our haven and happiness

I’ts YOUR haven so it needs to reflect you.  If you don’t know what your haven might look like, start thinking and journaling on that one.  Use some home magazines and see what draws your eye, stick them into your journal and then copy what you see – you’ll personalise it easily to suit you.  Our haven has a lot of little pointers towards happiness – signs that say “laugh,” and “love,” posters and plagues that say happiness, ornaments that give us joy.

We also have a “happiness tree” where we attach little things to it that either make us happy or are memories of things that gave us happiness in a year.  This is our third year doing it, after a friend on Facebook said that they didn’t want the Christmas feeling to end, and I realised I felt the same, and the reason was because it was a season of general goodwill and happiness.  The first year, I got a tree branch and painted it and attached things to it, then we bought a metal tree with lots of branches and I’m just about to remove the various tickets, butterflies, corks, and tiny ornaments attached to it to prepare it for 2012.

Christmas trees and the January blues

 This year, I also do  not want to get rid of my Christmas tree because it’s so beautiful – but much and all as I feel that, I know that come mid January, it’s tinsel would look decidedly odd, and it’s particular baubles would look out of place.  The Christmas tree is a symbol of light in the middle of darkness, it’s symbolism steeped in ancient history – and yet, I’ve wondered why we don’t have something similar for January, seen as the “most depressing month because of the shortage of light (and usually lack of money caused by Christmas celebrations).   It’s like January is a waiting month – between the joy and celebration of Chrismas, and the extra light we start to see in February, heralded by my favourite flower, the snowdrop.  Yet if I see it as a “waiting month” or a “month to get through,” then I waste 31 special days of my all too short life.  So how to “get through January” while living in the present, so I’m not wishing the days away? 

January Joy Ritual

A few years ago I started to plan good things into January – massages, weekends away, catching up with friends – things to look forward to.  This year, I’m adding to that by creating a January Joy ritual.  Rituals are so important in life, particularly where change is required or to cope with change, as there is safety and peace and calmness in them (and what is Christmas with trees and cards, and presents if not a yearly ritual?)   Enjoying my home will be key to this, (so I can snuggle in it with warm rugs and the light of candles and good smells), and candles and lights will remain critical. 

I was going to hit the sales for a special candle holder, but then I remembered that we got a number of tall red candle holders for the tables at our wedding in 2005 that come out each Christmas, and I realised that I could use these, with some sort of baubles somewhere, as these reflect the light.   Now all I need is 30 quotes/songs we can use for each of the days, as we will light these at dinner time, and keep them lit for the rest of the evening – not as a countdown to light, but an appreciation of light in the middle of darkness..

What ritual might help you in January, and how can you make your home a haven, or more of a haven than it all-ready is?

The Haven

The best laid plans

At the beginning of this year, I said that THIS year was going to be my year of knowing a healthy balance and outrageous joy.  I set myself a theme for the year based on what I find in my journals from the year before rather than making a list of New Year’s Resolutions, and it works well.  Normally. 

Time Tardis

My year of  “healthy balance” turned out to be the busiest of my life.  Ever; and that’s pretty impressive for someone who has been told that she lives in a Time Tardis with 48 hours in her day.  Except managing to squeeze even more into my life isn’t necessarily impressive (and has meant some things that are really important to me, like family, friends and spirituality have been somewhat squeezed out).

Let me tell you that had I not had this theme to return to constantly, I don’t think I’d have handled the pressure this year brought.   When I came up with that theme, I couldn’t ever have expected my year to unfold in the way it did, so I became a campaigner,  for a while forced into the spotlight and going down a route I never saw when I resigned as a JP.  All I wanted to do was get people talking about where our society is failing us, and our young people.  I was only ever going to be a reluctant face at the forefront of any campaign; I’m always happier in the background of any party, even my own.  Which is funny as I did end up standing for my own “party” as an MSP! A route that I went down after requests to do it and in the end I realised I couldn’t lose if I did stand, as it would keep attention on the issues – which it did, and in all sorts of ways I could never have anticipated! And I don’t regret any of it, even the lessons I learned, or the fractured ankle which I realised in hindsight gave me breathing space when I had none.

My Path

My only problem was other people’s expectations.  I forgot that I lived for 40 years doing what other people expected me to do before deciding to walk my own path – and I fell back into that pattern.  Up until two weeks ago I was really struggling with all I wanted to do and what was expected of me, getting to the stage where I just could not think and I could not see how all the parts of my life could be integrated.  With Lee’s support, we chose to go on a two week holiday to two out of the way places in Scotland just so there wasn’t much to do and so I’d have time to think, and journal.  I knew I needed a haven – and I found several.  In the space they created, and with the magic of journaling, I found my answers.  I realised my ultimate purpose is to inspire, nurture and encourage (pretty cool that these happen to be the last three initials in my name, eh?); and that includes ME.  There are others who are taking the fight on knife crime and sentencing forward with more skill and energy than I can (thanks to Campaign for Change).  I will continue to keep this in the public eye where I can, but I know now my heart (and therefore my true ability to make a difference) is in supporting some of the victims of crime and in getting involved in projects that change hearts. 

Serendipty

I also know that is only one hat I will wear, as my main focus will be on journaling and happiness.  I’ve had all sorts of amazing adventures and experiences of serendipity as well, confirming this is the path I need to walk (including finding I was staying at a place called the Haven, and sitting down on a bench to enjoy the sun, getting chatting to the lady on the next bench and finding out Anthea was a retired behavioural psychologist running a stress course on the island.  Which I attended the last day of, as others had pulled out due to other commitments – which created the space for me!)  This is my path, not the path others would want for me, but my path.  And I’m loving it.

My Haven

And – you heard it here first. One day – and I don’t know how, but that really doesn’t matter – I’m going to run a Haven.  A place where people who’ve got to overload or who can’t cope with life as-it-is-at-that-point can come to reconnect with themselves or find peace and calm.  I’m also going to live by the sea.  I’ve come off the roundabout that was life for a while, and finding a healthy balance.  I know there is more to life than making it go faster, so I’m just enjoying the way my life is unfolding, the new friends I’m making, the fact that that one step is leading to another…. and I’m beginning to know outrageous