Autumnal Opera

Throughout the November days
An annual autumnal opera plays
It is party time for all our senses
Stop, look and listen for yourself

Hear the voices of the dawn chorus
Singing myths and legends of old
As their avian friends travel south
Flying for weeks just to reach home

Every morning grass shiver in cold
Setting all dew drop bells ringing
A warning to all nature to prepare
Hibernation time is coming soon

Meanwhile the twisting pathways
Are covered in reds and oranges
Lying as the tears of the forests
Remembering those now gone

Triggering human hunting season
In shops and on webs food and gifts
And cut down trees to decorate
With bright lights and coloured balls

I watch and listen from my window
With my teapot, notebook and pen
My spirit of an old soul dreams on
But my childish eyes in awe awakens

© Fi S. J. Brown

The Slave’s Song

So you come into my world of convenience, let me show you
Through the hidden fingerprints of others that pay the cost
On paths that there are no apps or Google to direct you
The living underworld where you are the devil himself

I’m the slave without a ball and chain on my feet
The inconvenient truth, the ugly reality of modern life
I’m the fools gold that is treasured but has no real value
If I ask you to follow, will you dare to come with me?

So you come to my world of smart phones and laptops
A tap of a finger to bring you all human knowledge
Made with coltan from the new gold rush of Africa
A blooded gift from one seven year old to another

I’m the slave that hides in the shadows of the world
The voice that you pretend you cannot see or hear
I’m the normal in the abnormal anthrocentric world
The choir where no birds are allowed to sing freely

So you come to my world of designer clothes and bags
Where the cotton grows filled with deadly chemicals
And manufactured with fewer rights than your pet
These should not be a luxury items in anyone eyes

I’m the slave that can no longer be forgotten
The itch you now wish to scratch away to dust
I’m the awakening the blinds you more than ignorance
The worse of two evils that there is no middle ground

There’s a trail without the need for blood and wars
There’s another world that’s better for us both
It’ll take us home, out of this prison cell,
Where there’s blue sky and sun to share

So you come to my world to escape it all,
And you think you’re free from the liars and fools
Through the ease of using an app or click of a mouse
Laughing at those that you think you’re the master of

I’m the slave without a ball and chain at my feet
I’m the beggar, the looser, the cheat
So you arrive at the store to download the latest edition
Will you tap or walk away, the choice is yours

So you come to my world to escape it all,
And you think you’re free from the liars and fools
Through the ease of using an app or click of a mouse
Laughing at those that you think you’re the master of

© Fi S. J. Brown

Jealous

Jealous comes to the English language from Middle English jelous, gelous, gelus, Old French jalous, Late Latin zelosus, and Ancient Greek ζῆλος (zêlos, “zeal, jealousy”), from ζηλόω (zēlóō, “to emulate, to be jealous”). It is often used when someone is envious; feeling resentful or angered toward someone for a perceived advantage or success, material or otherwise. I see it every day from comments of colleagues to family, and on social media from the replies and silence, but yet I have more frustration with life than jealous of another.

Only this evening have I heard one person complain about how another’s face is craggy, as a way to hide their jealousy over this person being slim when they have put on weight. Another has not replied to a message about the 26 mile Kiltwalk I did last weekend because she cannot pretend to be happy for me even by a text message. Meanwhile I read about people posting horrible things on social media to a celebrity after she won a talent show, targeting her weight and looks, as jealous of her success. This woman made a documentary that made many in the UK talk about her, with a few even criticising how she is now, without understanding or knowing the secret pressures of being in the music industry. So called ‘keyboard warriors‘ that think free speech on social media allows them to do so, but should we let them? Perhaps something for another blog.

My life has never been a straight line, picking up experiences that bewilder and baffle with equal measure. Is it my fault for having multiple interests, and actually try to experience them…life is short so why not? I have been told when I write a full resume/CV it is impressive but intimidating, yet when you know me in person can see I am far from latter. People have tried to put my experiences and me into their neat little boxes, but even when they see I won’t fit they try to as to them one size must fit all or leave me out as I am the exception to the so called rules. The frustration I feel experiencing life would make for jealousy in another, but do not understand how another actually living that experience feels or my history that has led to the position I find myself at that moment.

I do not understand the point of jealousy – would I like a cottage near a river or sea, a partner, and children/dog? Yes, but no, as realised some things in life just are not meant for me. For example having children, intuition in my late teens said this was never going to happen for me, despite being told by adults how I was a natural with them. I would love to have a partner or companion to experience the world with, but not ever been something I have actively tried to find, as understanding what I want to actually searching is just not me. I am happy for others that found satisfaction with this way of life, but try to remember it is not for or meant to be for everyone.

Whilst we continue to let jealousy live, we will never understand empathy and compassion, as cannot see through those green eyes that blind us to the opposite of rose tinted glasses. As a child I was told ‘I want does not get‘ and ‘all this world, apart from you, wants is money‘ as I tried to make sense of life. As an adult I know life is hard and short, yet others through their jealousy want to add to it, but as a pacifistic I won’t fight back with abuse but will speak up if hurting someone I love or something that hits a nerve. Perhaps instead when jealousy hits ask them about it, is there a way you can experience it in a way that fits your life, and sometimes we just have to live through the frustration to find something meant for us only.

© Fi S. J. Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts from the Kiltwalk

On Sunday I took part in Edinburgh’s annual Kiltwalk, 24 miles walking for a small charity I work for. It gave me plenty of time for thinking. Seeing people of all ages joining together to walk to support all sorts of charities and non-profit organisations, country wide to small local ones, put a smile on my face. It was such a wonderful friendly and supportive atmosphere, which was great, but made me wonder why we cannot have that more often these days. People smiling and laughing not stuck on their phones, chatting with each other and enjoying each other’s company. Equally, why online there is more hate and judgement, with trolls determined to bring people down for perhaps looking and/or being different to what they know.

Also, we as people have also physically changed, many of us torturing ourselves over how fat or thin we look, distorting our faces and bodies into the weirdest shapes, and some living their whole lives online. Trying to fit into a world that would rather we all be the same, while we struggle to be individuals as want to fit in. Whilst in other parts of the world they struggle to feed their families, try to stay alive in conflict zones, and coping with non existent medical treatment when things go wrong. What a flawed beings we are, all living at the same time but experience the world in such different ways it can be hard to understand.

I then thought of what a strange world we have created to fit in with our environment, not the one of nature but humans. The homes we choose, the traditional brick houses to the ultra modern with views out to sea. Gardens full of flowers to one with the scariest looking scarecrow I had ever seen. A few kids en route waved good luck, one even shouted ‘good luck’ (I replied ‘thank you’ and the eight year old shouted back ‘you’re welcome’), and the odd car honked its horn to acknowledge our feats. My favourite bits were walking along the coast from Musselburgh to Leith, and in the parks of Edinburgh with the green of trees rather than grey concrete that was more fifty shades of sighs.

Overall, I was glad I did the walk, a huge personal challenge but reminded me how much we can do when we put our minds to it. Equally, even though life can be physically and mentally difficult for me and others by doing this I can look back when things are bad to say you did that Fi. What will I do next…I am not sure but like everything I put my all into it as want to make a difference to the world, not so I can show off but lead others to see they can do it too. I believe in you, and maybe now myself too! I remembered the line from Mary Schmich’s speech – ‘do something every day that scares you’ – as I walked, and thought maybe I should do this sort of thing more often. Here’s to next year’s walk!

© Fi S. J. Brown

Brave the Shave – Not in my name

I caught MacMillan Cancer’s ‘Brave the shave’ advert on television this morning, which I previously posted about. How is this campaign still going and winning awards? Oh yes, it brings them in millions of £. I cannot believe they still do grasp how insensitive this is. Not only does it trivialise hair loss, which has been a source of many tears and self loathing for over twenty five years for me.

Loosing our hair is very different to shaving, unless you experience it for yourself, you cannot grasp the emotional and mental changes that go with hair loss. Would we ask people to paint bruises on their body to empathise with victims of domestic abuse, neglecting the emotional and mental abuse that can accompany it? It is distasteful.

The advert has people looking in mirrors desperate to see how they look now, with hair loss mirrors become something to hide from as scared of the image they now show. Shaving hair is not empathetic, I mean why would you choose to look this way? Hair loss isn’t all in one go either, it can be a slow process of waking up to hairs on the pillow, which are only matched by our tears, until it is gone. It is heartbreaking.

This plays up to the narcissistic, attention-grabbing, selfie generation that want to show they are doing good things for charity, but it is really all about them – lapping up all the whoops and grins from others. As they spend the follow period showing us how their hair is regrowing, never sparing a thought for us that it will never grow back, and forgetting the cause as they do too.

Go on bra walks, run marathons, or make cakes, but please think before you pick up that shaver in someone’s name.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Visions and Sounds

Sight and sound are equally important in the way we experience the world, yet the visual dominates.

Sound has an important role to play in nature and human societies. From the bird song that breaks out to let us know dawn of a new day has begun, the use of drums by some cultures as a form of aural communication, and the songs we sing to accompany of life’s journeys, to the speeches made by orators that move us by their words alone. What we hear influences how we feel and what we do.

As technology has advanced, the world has become an increasingly noisy, confusing and disturbing place. However, the visual still overides the sound. Social media has reinforced the visual with Instagram, Snapchat and even Facebook focusing on it. How many reading this have tried the filters on them, or the new age app to see how we will look when older? YouTube is about the moving image, but it is still more watching than listening that dominates it. Furthermore, loosing our eyesight is seen as far worse than our other senses – research found in medical students almost 60% considered blindness worse than deafness while only about 6% considered deafness worse. Yet, we can buy a pair of reading glasses from a supermarket for our eyes, why is it not that simple for our hearing?

We live in a world of fake and manipulated images, so how can we believe what we see as real? Equally, what we hear is just as fake – from the latest pop song that the vocals maybe the vocalist’s own mixed with others then autotune to produce the voice we hear streamed in our ears, to the mainstream news stories told by reporters as fact but maybe spun or based on slight truths. In many ways we live in George Orwell’s 1984: “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.

Perhaps we let visual dominate as we like to see the world through rose tinted glasses, and by listening we are forced to hear things we may not want to. Equally, by listening properly we have to engage in a way we are forgetting, as have become too addicted to the little black mirror that has more technology in it than took a man to the moon fifty years ago.

So what can we do? Use all our senses, not just our vision and hearing. “Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” Roy T. Bennett,

© Fi S. J. Brown

Happiness

I used to think I wasn’t allowed to be happy, then I slowly realised I did not know what happiness actually is.

From the small child that had tears in her tummy like a Care Bear through bullying and isolation from her peers to abuse from family, which at times was disguised as fun and games, to the adult that felt like the alien watching a world go by that she was never meant to be part of. I also blamed my black dog, i.e. depression, as it painted the world in monotone and every day felt like one step away from falling down a cliff whilst sat on a rocking chair. How could I find this pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, when I could not even see the rainbow? And if I found the pot, what would I do with it, for I knew I would not want to keep it to myself.

I decided to go back to basics and see what others had deemed happiness to be. For many happiness was linked to being successful, which in the most simplistic terms was money, power, fame, looking hot, owning stuff. None of which had I ever wanted and/or craved, but did not seem to me the path that would yield happiness. They seemed more a fool’s gold type of happiness, superficial and fake, as well as following the Pied Piper who was never seen, but everyone followed his tune. It all reminded me of my late father saying to me in my teens ‘all this world, apart from you, wants is money‘, after a conversation discussing this golden carrot we seem to be programmed to chase, and some how when I was reincarnated into this life I missed the injection for it!

I realised the above was superficial, and I had always been one to go through many layers to strip away the falseness and lies so would never be able to accept the ‘normal’ way of defining happiness. I also knew the one person I needed to know and love above all else was myself, which I was not doing and felt I almost needed to reboot myself after a breakdown. In the end I decided that a restart from a safe place was the best option, as I knew as a child what made me happy – deep discussions with my great uncle to music and nature that were my comfort blankets. Rediscovering my passion for music through good friends and their friendship showed me a world I had not understood before – friendship. People that cared, not on a superficial level, but gave a damn back and saw the world through eyes I had tried hard to make sense of alone, now knowing it needed more than one pair to truly see through the forests of mists and lies. Finally, awaken what and who I truly was, that was hiding amongst the test tubes, chemicals and microscopes, instead with my piano, pen, paper and tea mug.

It is said happiness can never be bought, I would completely agree. Equally, that pot of gold is everywhere and nowhere as there are little things each day that bring us happiness, which we should remember and not take for granted, but also it is highly individual and inside of us. There is no right or wrong path to happiness, no street map or guide, it is far deeper than the superficial things we have attached to it. Furthermore, there is no normal, we need to stop inferring an one size fits all approach when no two humans are alike from their outer shell to how they experience it. Perhaps once we have relearned these, alongside empathy and understanding, then we may find the happiness meant for us.

© Fi S. J. Brown

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

I was reading blogging prompts and ideas when I came across this one…What is the best gift you’ve ever received? The Oxford Dictionary defines the word gift as: “A thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present”, which I feel perfectly sets the tone of what to me is the best gift.

I could say my DSLR camera that has taken me on many personal journeys, both physically, mentally and spiritually. It assisted me with therapeutic photography, which in the last ten years since I was given it has in turn given me self acceptance and love. However, I put money towards it, and if I take the dictionary definition it does not fit.

Equally, the answer may be my exercise bike, which I have travelled 1000s of km on since I was given in Christmas 2017. It has given me the needed push to exercise more, even when it is cold and wet outside I can mount it, and put music on, to be taken to other places, as use my imagination to imagine where I am cycling that day.

However, for me the best gift is life itself. As someone that daily battles depression, and has had suicidal thoughts off and on for over twenty five years it may seem an odd choice. However, since 2008 when life froze for a few days, I no longer wanted to be part of it, I have grown to see it anew, returning to seeing it like I did as a child.

Why a child’s view you may ask yourself. A child lives in the moment, enjoying and noticing the changes around them. I let my imagination run wild, as I let my visual mind combined with all my senses try make sense of the world around me. Painting the world in colour, not the monochrome it had become, and shining light into the darkness of others.

There could be evil lurking round a corner determined to shatter everything around us into a thousand pieces. However, we cannot live through fear, and there is so much more good out there that needs to be seen and heard. Life is a gift, which we can unwrap daily to enjoy, big and small, and treasure the memories they bring us.

Gifts do not have to cost a lot of money, if any, to mean something special to us. It is often the person that gives us the gift that can transcend the thing we are given. With my chosen gift of life it is Tim I should thank for he was the one that saved me that weekend in 2008, and will never forget just how selfless and special that gift is.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Eight years on

Some anniversaries are times of celebration, some are ones we want to forget. This weekend is a personal anniversary of days I’ll never forget, shaping and painting the foundations of the woman I am today.

I was dreading Easter 2008, I did not want to travel north or even be part of Planet Earth any more. I felt alone with nowhere or no one to go to. Yes I was on antidepressants but they only made me feel worse in every way. Also, I was having psychodynamic therapy but felt I was left on top of a cliff in a rocking chair at the end of every session. I decided there was only one way off the merry go round and the chair was ready to snap, sending me over the cliff.

Nervous breakdown and suicidal, yes and yes to both. I also self harmed, usually my feet but that weekend I used a pen to create marks in my hand to show the world finally I gave up. No matter what you may think of those that consider suicide or do it, please know it is not an act of cowardliness. Being stopped from jumping in front of a train or hanging from my dressing gown robe were not signs of being crazy but more a white flag to say I can take no more.

Eight years on, my depression is giving me a good beating recently as feel purple and blue all over from where it has kicked and beaten me with its stick. However, I have friends that are like family who I open up to, feel less the watcher of the play of Planet Earth but have a few lines, use the pen not in self hurt but to give voice to what hurts me or give voice to those that have none, and use trains to have adventures accompanied by my trusted camera.

On my left wrist are tattooed three words that say much more than they do alone, you may be able to guess them but I will not say them aloud such is the magic spell they cast upon me. They are not your regular tattoo because they are written in invisible ink. There to remind me of the journey to this present time and what the present moment holds, the good things and people, and why to throw it all away now as could not hurt them with my final actions.

So remember dear reader, no matter how dark the present moment maybe, there is always light (outside and within). Nothing in life is black and white, it is that muddy grey bit in the middle that we find ourselves living in and our normal lies within it. Normal is what is right for us and our journey, trying to conform to the expectations and ideals of others is like wearing our neighbour’s underwear! Life is multisensory and multicoloured, so lets go painting!

© Fi S. J. Brown

Festive Ponders 2015

It is almost the shortest day of the year, which means the final countdown of the festive season will truly begin. A time for excess, but let’s make it of love, compassion and empathy, not envy, jealousy, or the largest turkey to diamond ring we can afford. Remember, it is not the size of the gift or price tag, but the thought another human being thinking of us that does. They took time out of their day to do so, even if we don’t like it.
 
It is also the time when we reflect on the year now almost over, resolving to make the next better than this. Instead of resolving to change habits that we will break as soon as the 1am bells ring, why do we not consider being ourselves 24/7. Be true to who we are and what matters to us, nobody has the right to tell us it is not normal or wrong as it is what is what and how life’s colours paint our story and no two are ever truly a like.
 
Also, be gentle with ourselves when things don’t go as planned, that way when success comes it can be like enjoying the view from a mountain seeing all we overcame to get there. Do not feel guilty at that piece of chocolate or extra mince pie, as we all deserve a treat for surviving those dark and hard times. However, using alcohol to drunks to cover those times do not work, like a band aid on a gaping, the pain will always seep through.
 
Nobody is truly ever alone, we all have someone somewhere that we matter to even in thought and spirit. It may not be a happy season for all but send hope. To those we call family or close friend, keep them close in heart not just at Christmas but every day by letting our thoughts and actions show how much they mean to us. To those we may only speak to via Facebook or Christmas card, are symbols of our life’s journey from past to present, giving it shape.
 
To those that follow my blog I appreciate you doing so as you follow my journey and do not judge it, accepting my quirks and idiosyncratic ponders, as paint the world as it is through my experiences and points of view. To those these are the first words of mine you have read, thank you for taking time to read. Now take all these words as my gift to you all, wishing good health (mental and physical), love, light and peace today and everyday.
 
© Fi S. J. Brown