With Autumn Nearly Done

With autumn nearly done the air has turned cold
The Northern Hemisphere painted in red and gold
Along the riverbanks leaves lie like tears of the old
In sadness at the their life stories never to be told

The wind whistles a melancholy tune during the day
That feel shorter than any Shakespearean play
And a darkness that makes shadows from bails of hay
While Jack Frost lies waiting to pounce without delay

A season with its own distinctive burning smell
That with one sniff puts life under a giant spell
While only the selected few evergreen trees rebel
And some join the humans in the festive of Noel

Yet another another year has almost flown
With coronavirus making the world grown
But do think of those in lockdown all alone
Just wishing someone would use their phone

Turn on the spotlight to those positive thinkers
Not believing the lies and deceit of the twisters
Send out positive vibes to the hopeful wishers
And unite together as a world of happy whistlers

© Fi S. J. Brown

Kitty (In Memorandum)

In that moment, you were gone
The voice of fur and feathers
A friend from across the pond
Another scarred patchwork doll
Held together with music notes
And connected over an archer
As Bob proved life is on Mars

Cancer is such a cruel bitch
Taking away a special soul
You gave so much of yourself
When fighting pain of all kinds
Rescuing animals to the ranch
And becoming a mama to them

As you crossed the rainbow bridge
The stars hid behind grey clouds
Crying together united in grief
But the moon kept her light on
Glinting in the waterfalls of tears
Now cascading from my eyes

Saying farewell seems so final
The fat lady has not even sung
But know at least you have peace
No more sleepless nights for you
Let us just sing a song once more
‘And come on now just smile…’

© Fi S. J. Brown

Later

The day starts with the sun rising, it either goes faster than Usain Bolt or drags like a tortoise pulling a sledge, and then the sun sets.


Monday morning becomes Friday afternoon, and a weekend whizzes by like Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes with no brakes to slow it down.


Another week over, and soon that turns into a month. Birthdays come and go with candles blown out for another year. As the year too ends.


Big birthdays seem to fall closer and closer together. It was 30, then 40, and now 50 waves from the top of a hill that grows closer with every step.


Life is over and we never did a fraction of the things we said to ourselves we dreamt of doing. Well there was always tomorrow, but it never came.


Let’s not live with regrets for a future yet unwritten, or be held to ransom from a past that cannot be changed. The only moment that matters is now.


Do things you love and follow our instincts. Adding colour to the grey, dancing to the beat of our song. Smile at the little things that soon become big.


Life changes so quickly there is no time for later or after. There is no promise of tomorrow, but a whisper of hope in the wind as we snore and sleep.

Wait and soon the tea becomes cold. Promises are forgotten. Priorities change. Young has become old. Day turns once more into night.


Today is the day. Make peace with the past, and start the stepping stones to the future. Let those we love know it. Or maybe do it all later…

© Fi S. J. Brown

Moonbathing at the Sea of Tranquility

Late night moothbathing at the Sea of Tranquility,
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in my hands.
Looking out towards the third rock from the sun,
Where the ragged men and plastic women live.
Sharing stories through filters on black mirrors,
As normal is something everyone wants to be.

Education did not teach compassion and empathy,
Maths rules from dead Greek men not equality.
How to fit neatly like packages in boxes with labels,
Squeeze left, right, up and down one size fits all.
Wearing their dirty old glasses full of fingerprints,
Stigmatising those that had a red not yellow labels.

One year a virus held them captive in their homes,
As the world carried on without their tuneless songs.
A time for reflection came with depression and anxiety,
But the galaxy did not answer their fears with tears.
The lessons it taught Earth's citizens lasted a lifetime,
As they burnt their boxes and became free for a while.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Nature as Therapy

2020 has been a year like no other for many of us. The stress, anxiety, and depression many have felt due to COVID-19 has at times been overwhelming. Lockdown has stopped our routines, kept us prisoner at times in our own homes, and uncertain when/if we can return to life as it was before. The four walls of our homes felt so small and claustrophobic, as they became cages, making some of us finally see what it must be like to be an animal in a zoo or circus.

Most of us the Western World live concrete cities, filled with electronics and gadgets, with communication reduced down to talking via black mirrors, and spending time much of our time indoors. Even before COVID-19 and lockdown this had become our normal. With the arrival major technological advancements, we have escaped from the “Great Outdoors” and placed more emphasis on technology; such as, television, computers, and gaming. We would rather spend less time outdoors with nature, and more time on selfies with Snapchat filters or post pictures of our food to Instagram, than walking in woodlands and watching the sunrise from a mountain.

This in turn has led to some of us having nature-deficit disorder, a non-clinical term that describes the negative effects a lack of exposure to nature has upon on us. This has been highlighted particularly with children, as in order to protect them from harm, many parents have actively discouraged them from going outdoors. One common symptom is directed attention fatigue — the inability to remain focused on a single task, conversation, or item, often caused by the brain being overstimulated by technology.

To help us get back in touch with nature, the field of ecotherapy or nature therapy has been developed. Ecotherapy aims to help people connect with nature to aid in dealing with physical and mental illnesses. The idea is of re-connection, and seeks to remind us that we are part of ecosystems rather than separate from them.

Nature, whether we are camping in woods in the wilderness, in a city park, or simply walking down a tree-lined street, has the power to make people feel new again. Research has shown that a simple walk in nature can reduce anxiety, keep our spirits high, and even improve memory. Incredibly, just looking at photographs of greenery for less than a minute can give us a mood boost.

Within nature, trees have always held a special place in human culture throughout history, as sources of food, fuel and practical use, but also creative inspiration, mythic symbolism and spiritual significance. A good book I recently read by James Canton is The Oak Papers, which is about our relationship with oak trees, as well as James’ special connection with one particular tree. Trees also form part of the Japanese practise of Shinrin-yoku, also known in English as Forest Bathing. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

I was asked to name one thing that had helped me with my mental health during lockdown, and I answered nature. I love walking through forests, listening to the birds and rivers, watching squirrels run up and down trees, touching their bark with my hands and face, feeling the ground in nothing but the soles of my feet, and take pictures with my camera or mobile/cell phone to mindfully take in that moment. Medication may not but for everyone, but meditation with nature is – any age, gender, race, religion, or ability can. So try it and remember: “Little by little we are encouraged to lay aside the chaos of a troubled world and gently nurture the capacity within to hear a more harmonious, universal rhythm.” Hoichi Kurisu

© Fi S. J. Brown

Sensitivity

Even just reading the word “sensitivity” is enough for some to imagine something needing extra care, perhaps wrapped in cotton wool or bubble wrap. Others may see it as weakness, a flaw, or even something to exploit. Take the phrase “sensitive skin” that needs special treatment as the normal way produces rashes and eczema. So what is like to have sesnitivity as a human trait in reality? Do we really need to take a tablet to block our tears that cry in empathy, such as those this week in Beruit? Do we need a cream to hide the scars we may inflict on ourselves, as ways to show our inner pains, which others think are weakness? Should we feel guilty for feeling anything?

When I was a kid I was frequently told off for being sensitive. The games my brother played were abusive, not fun, his hands touching my neck were strangulation, and his bedroom visits were as unwelcome as his taunting laughter with pointed finger. The girls at school telling anyone new “nobody is friends with Fiona”,to the humiliation for my hair loss with wig blowing off in a windy gust that followed a physical attack. At home watching television going from fine to floods of tears in seconds, sometimes headaches too, due to my empathetic nature wanted to protect the person or animal being hurt or experiencing something highly emotional. Were these really just my fault for being sensitive? Could I simply turn them off as may make others cry, and bring them down too?

The answer is no, and I say it again no. I tried to plug them and be”strong”, but pushing any emotion away just made my depression worse. I felt guilty and hated myself for caring so much. I felt like an alien sent to observe human behaviour, finding it hard to be part of their games as seemed to always end in humiliation, wars and bloodshed. The victor seemed to take great joy in crushing the enemy for being weak. Is human nature really so dark and twisted? We keep animals caged in the belief we are protecting them, but really need the same love and compassion as any living being.

The older I have become, the more I have seen humans treating their fellow humans, and the world around them as though they were their personal trash can. Having feelings is seen as wrong, and who cares as long as I am okay. Some even have god-like complexes and must be seen to make a difference, but hide the fact others are probably doing the real work, and they are taking all the praise, and letting their egos grow with all the praise. Some try to raise the voice of sensitivity, but get pills and hate thrown at them with equal measure. Even trying to give people a true social distance when out walking I get glares of wtf is she doing. I am no sheep following blindly, but respecting to respect the lives of my fellow humans. The wearing of a mask is seen as we are not going to get it, not we are trying to stop the spread of this virus together.

Sensitivity to the world I have learnt is not a weakness. It actually grounds me to it more to the world, and learnt more about hidden truths that way. Trusting my instincts is key. If something feels wrong, I know I need out now! If someone gives a certain energy, do not trust them one iota. Being out with nature, slow down and take my time, there is no real rush. Experiencing life with all my senses, and taking life day by day is how I live. I am not going follow another, take a tablet to block what is a big but of being Fi, just because it uses emotions. I have grown to love and respect that part of me, as helps me to be myself, as well as supporting the world around me with my skills and knowledge too. Hate or laugh at me all you like, but being sensitive is my gift to use and share as I choose.

 © Fi S. J. Brown

Insta Fakery

Last night I took a closer look at the world of influencers on social media, specifically Instagram. I know I am not the same age as many of them, heck not even the same generation, but blimey the lengths they go to post an image.

The level of fakery made me doubt reality for a good while. I am talking heavily manipulated versions of themselves; the profile vs tagged showing the differences, the mirror reflection showing the truth, or being caught ‘in the wild’ looking very different to their posted images. The apps, filters, Photoshop and surgery some use/have to create these fakes is down right scary and manipulative. Some even claim natural and pick on people who call them out, ‘haters gonna hate’! So called travel influencers do not even visit the places they claim – the same fence or clouds are in every single image suggests otherwise. Others use stock images to create illusions, from food on a plate, sunsets in airplanes, or even hairstyles at a hairdressers. Others talking into a phone camera, but the filter on them change their appearance completely. Where will it stop?

As someone that has had poor self image and body dysmorphia, which led to many years of emotional self harming and depression, it has all left a very strange taste in my mouth. I used photography as therapy, and continue to use it as a hobby, this saddens me and image manipulation now has gone mainstream, almost acceptable as normal. I shook my head that at dating website even had to tell people they would not accept manipulated images! I wouldn’t use one of those sites or apps anyway. I actually spent an hour manipulating an image of me, just to see but with every layer I added I felt I was being untrue to myself and took a self vow never to do so again. Being ourselves is becoming harder each day, but our individuality is key, so let’s not filter it away just for a few likes.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Depression

Depression is like being frozen in time and held prisoner in a cage with no bars. Filled with unseen, unheard, unspoken, unreleased and unhealed pain. Therapy can help give it a voice and shape, medication can temporarily numb and allow us to live, but the real difference comes from deep within. We have to defrost, work through it (slowly and sometimes repetitively) and release ourselves. It is not just the shadows that haunt, but repression of causes that may now have grown into forests as never dealt with the roots as saplings.

We still live in a world that encourages us to bury rather than express, manage rather than deal with, and silence rather than speak. This just makes us replay old thoughts like broken records, making enemies with our own being, and unable to move on as becomes lost in the forests of our own creation. There is no golden axe that can chop them down to the roots, but defrosting our feelings so no longer trapped in time, and forgive ourselves so we can be free. No more damming up our emotions as scared of the rivers that may flow from our eyes, let down the flood barriers and open our mouths to speak our feelings aloud.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Summer 2020

Summer is here, and for some of us the summer vacation/holidays have begun. However, this year with lockdown/quarantine the annual break from work has taken a different turn as for most of us it will be spent at home. Some airlines will be flying to take us away, but how many of us will risk catching Covid-19 in so doing?

It is also the time of year when we have adverts to pressurise us to loose weight for fitting into a bikini or swimming costume. The world is full of TV, magazines, and diet talk constantly reminding women of the young, smooth, skinny ideal. Men are not exempt from this either. Some blame on the rise of social media, and the narcissistic selfie culture that the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld rather accurately aptly described as ‘electronic masturbation’. However, reality tv shows such as ‘Love Island’ brainwash viewers with an idealised version of how both men and women should be in the 21st century. Then there are celebrities and influencers on social media, who edit their images and lives, and so when we do not match they can leave a big hole in our self confidence, self image and mental health, leading to depression and even suicide.

Despite lockdown, the pressure for the impossible ‘perfect body’ for the summer still seems to be in full swing, although much of our normal routines have changed, temporarily to permanently. Also, there have been many jokes about haircuts done during this time as cannot access a professional to do it for us. Equally, some have gained or lost weight as ways to cope with these strange times. I also realise this pressure will keep continuing as people return to their works and routines beyond the summer. Have you seen the Facebook meme entitled “When You Meet Your Friends After Quarantine,” which shows toddler girls baring their admittedly adorable bellies which they bonk together? So how can we be ourselves, comfortable in our own skins, when there is pressure to be something we are not? How do we combat these messages, and the negativity they may bring to our mental health?

It is not easy, but gratitude is a good starting point. Being grateful to our bodies for getting us through another day, and keeping going through an enormously stressful time for all human beings. For some keeping a journal writing five positive things each day about themselves may help, or even sharing them on social media to encourage others to join in. Finally, accepting that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect body‘, in fact in some ways every type of body is their type of perfect. A couple of quotes I like says it all from anon: “The number on the scale does not define your health or your worth” and “Imagine if we obsessed about the things we loved about ourselves.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

 

Escape from Lockdown

Sitting out on a sunny day
The blue sky the warm sunshine
Looking out over the Pentland Hills
To the lands of freedom so far away
Not far from these hills a pandemic lingers
An invisible grey cloud
Once in a while we would forget

The days we escaped to the beaches
And left our rubbish to the wind
The days we dreamed we could be free
Riding the waves of liberty
Meeting one more of our friends
And no homeschooling for our kids
Feeling the warm sun on our faces
And no coughing from our mouths

So we headed for dunes with suntan lotion
Made it thought the motorway queues
To the waves at Bournemouth
Coughs and fevers swapped for sand and ice cream
Not far from these hills a pandemic lingers
An invisible grey cloud
Once in a while we would forget

The days we escaped to the beaches
And left our rubbish to the wind
The day that we dreamed we could be free
Riding the waves of liberty
Meeting one more of our friends
And no homeschooling for our kids
Feeling the warm sun on our faces
And no coughing from our mouths

So we made our way
Through the Dartford Tunnel
To the southern coast of England
Through the sun and crowds
While the second wave waited on

The days we escaped to the beaches
And left our rubbish to the wind
The day that we dreamed we could be free
Riding the waves of liberty
Meeting one more of our friends
And no homeschooling for our kids
Feeling the warm sun on our faces
And no coughing from our mouths

© Fi S. J. Brown