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

To Be Free

Every time we leave home,
A road full of routine we follow blindly,
Into a world that seems unchanging.
Familiar faces exchanging glances,
Old places that we remember being built,
As memories rush by of times now gone.

New places seem frightening in contrast,
In a world where nothing seems to last,
And in a blink of our eyes it is gone forever.
Everyone just wants to fit in labelled boxes,
Normal as just who wants to be different?
We are all individuals but collectively one.

We find comfort in the routine,
The intimacy shared like a loved partner,
That we trust with our every heartbeat.
With changes bringing out our distrust,
As begin to question their loyalty to us,
And reach for prayer that all will be well.

Just as we loathe the sound of Monday,
Friday always seems just out of touch,
And weekends are over far too quick.
Letting time tick with a monotone beat,
Seldom stopping to learn our rhythm,
Dancing away like an one trick pony.

Many simply call it the ‘rat race’,
But then who’s laboratory are we in?
And who are we in competition with?
Part of someone else’s experiments,
But how to escape the hidden cage,
When there are no bars to break free.

Bread to fear the change of constant,
To fly away requires thinking anew,
Going the detours with an open mind.
Following a compass of our free souls,
Discovering the hidden life that awaits,
Free to live and dance the way we want.

Travelling awakened and refreshed,
Saying yes to invitations to the new,
Returning home enriched and fortified.
Living our lives with the fullest glass
And in the moment not past or future,
With happiness written upon our faces.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Dear Santa

Dear Santa,
I know I have not written to you in around thirty years but felt it was about time I did again. I know you judge children if they have been ‘naughty or nice’, but what about grown ups? The world is full of people that judge us from our hair style to skin colour, mock our belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster to our chosen special loved one’s gender, and dismiss us due to disabilities but never find the abilities. They paint all in 50 shades of green, which is tainted with hate, greed and envy as they perceive or assume us to be a certain way, yet we are all one shade of red when we bleed when hurt by their ways. We also have voices are multicoloured, but others try mute or copy but never get the right shade despite the auto tune.

This year has been hard one for many, we are emotionally, mentally and physically exhausted by it all and looking forward to a break from it raining all the time. There are things that your elves just cannot make and be delivered by you, such as loved ones we would give anything to spend the day with but cannot due to health, distance, estrangement, and death. New jobs that would bring us changes that may improve circumstances, not meaning financial, to us and those we love. Improved health, physical and mental, so we can live life to the full The wisdom to accept today and make the most of it without longing for the past or wishing for the future.

This Christmas forget the iPhones and funny socks but instead bring people together with smiles and laughter. May glasses overfill with love and light not just wine or gin. Create memories to cherish over dinner not recipes that will mean disaster in years to come. To those with nobody to celebrate let someone open their door and hearts not just presents from under the tree. For some they have no home, so may they find shelter as Mary and Joseph did in the story many base this celebration on and give birth to a hope filled with love and light that lasts a lifetime.

Thank you Santa for reading my letter so far; I have now stopped with the wants to consider nobody ever asks what you or your elves want. So what do you want? Some may leave you a drink and mince pie in thanks without considering the bigger picture. Just as the elves help you, some may help us to make that dream a reality or ensure the big night goes to plan but we not always see or appreciate quite all they do. Equally, we do not always thank those that give themselves to us as we take their presence for granted, assuming they will be unchanging and there for us much like you dear Santa.

So thank you once again dear Santa and to all the elves, know even as a grown up we may make wishes for presents that you cannot wrap and put in a stocking, just like my niece asking for a pony. The Christmas magic cannot buy or bring what truly matters, the human spirit filled with love, empathy, peace, light and happiness to others, and that is my gift to you and those that read this letter. This may not sound much but it is all we need, and can be shared globally irrespective of difference, location and.address.

Love,
Fi x

© Fi S. J. Brown

Some days

Some days I wish I could fly up high like a bluebird
Everything flowing freely without any tainted word.
No mouldy air or stagnant water to hold me back,
And let me finally follow that old yellow brick track.
 
Some days I am drowning in a sea of forest green,
Attacked by the branches of the woodland queen.
Cannot see the wood from the hundreds of trees,
Needing an axe clear my view and unlock the keys.
 
Some days I feel like an actor that forgot their lines,
Missing subtle prompts and ignoring warning signs.
Trashing and trivialising any of my achievements,
But count my failures like individual bereavements.
 
Some days I wake up to find a smile upon my face,
As realise that it is okay to be a tortoise in the race.
Bursting the balloons of self doubt and losing fears,
Listening to the wise birds with their comforting ears.
 
Some days I sing with the dawn chorus for being alive,
And feel refreshed in the morning dew as I take a dive
Ready a new to take on the world whatever it will bring,
Tying up any problems or puzzles with some old string.
 
© Fi S. J. Brown

Mindful life lessons

Happiness – Is something we feel and cannot ever be bought or sold. It is learning to be content without wanting or expecting more. Some of us feel at times it eludes us or is meant for us but not ourselves. However, learning to regain the childhood imagination and wonder at the world, accepting what we have now not want or did have.

Love – The aged old cliché is true, love ourselves before we love another. Yet, how can we accept the love of another if we do not ourselves? There is also a balancing act with the ego, so does not turn into narcissism. Loving ourselves is a life time’s work, there are no short cuts via surgery or quick fixes; learning to know ourselves and accept us is key.

Respect – Realising that how friends and/or family live life is their way, and when find our authentic life we respect their choices as we would hope they would ours. Yes not everyone does as may try tell us it is not natural or normal, which can be as painful as it is isolating making self respect hard, but it begins and ends with us as individuals.

Authentic – Living life the way that is right for us, not what someone else wants us to be by controlling it with fear or anger; nor is it copying another’s out of jealousy and greed, feeling it should be ours too. Remember, it is not who we were five years ago and nor is it who we’d like to be in another five but who we are today and this moment in time.

Confidence – There are always people who will laugh and gossip behind our backs, but if we accept who we are why does it matter? As they may be as jealous and envious of what us wish we had that they have. Nobody walks our path with us or the same as us for life, keep on walking forward because their ego and jealousy will soon trip them up.

Maturity – With the passing of time we see many of the different colours and shades of humanity, as well as good and bad. It can take many years to realise what makes our life is different to another’s, sometimes the fight to try reach that goal others have achieved is one not meant to be for us or may simply not be what is right for us right now.

Present – We all have a past and we may have a future, but the only time we really have is now. The present helps us learn from the mistakes of the past so no longer has the same pain to hurt us, equally the future is but a promise and it needs the foundations laid today if wish the promise to turn into reality. So always be aware and in the present.

Life – Is hard. It has no fixed length but is fatal in the end. So make the most of what we have, money is not a driver but a means to an ends. Looking after ourselves, being gentle during the bad times and allowing ourselves to enjoy the good is key. Treating everyone we meet as the individual they are but as an equal, in the same way we would.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Time to smile

There is a saying that time is the greatest healer, and I would totally agree with it. What seems like a major incident today is but a footnote on our life’s story. In 2006 I hid the pain of depression inside and sometimes self harming my feet, I looked older than the almost 28 years I was suppose to then be. We are now in 2015, I let go of what hurt me and try not let today’s pains stick, setting them free as the sun sets. I am happier now within than I have ever felt previously. So whatever is making the world seem black, focus on the good things and keep the colour in focus. Remember we all have scars from where this world has bitten us, but it is now time to bite back.

© Fi S. J. Brown

2015

Take this box and fill it with all that hurts you, when you think it is full add some more. Then put it on a shelf to only be opened as little as possible. Now take this bottle, fill it with all that makes you happy, it will show you even on the hard days your glass is more than half full and the little things matter. Finally, take this glass. It is filled with hope, health, happiness, love and peace. Drink it so that 2015 brings all that and more to you.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Yule

Sitting in a forest drinking apple cider, listening to the wind blowing and making all the evergreen trees leaves ring out to rejoice the winter solstice is here. Around me the red berries of the holly and white of the mistletoe shine like candles near and far in memory of this year now gone. A small bonfire in the middle of the forest warms both my heart and soul as I am surrounded by nature and thank Mother nature for the gifts that she keeps on giving me. I have put my tent up by the oldest oak tree, to lie in watch for the sun to rise, as on this night my ancestors celebrated the rebirth of the Oak King, the Sun King, the Giver of Life. and warms the frozen Earth; as from this day forward, the days will become longer in the northern hemisphere. So to all this day I wish you a blessed Yule and every day I wish all peace, love, happiness and harmony.

Fi S. J. Brown

Perfect happiness

Does and in what ways appearance and body image – being perfect – is it connected to happiness? A current prevalent assumption is that those who are more perfect will be happier. Many women (and men) judge themselves and others on how much they ‘fit’ the dominant ideal, on how perfect they are, and their sense of self often follows from this. That being perfect connects to being happy is often assumed: ‘if I’m thinner, prettier, sexier s/he’ll love me more’ or ‘if I was ten pounds lighter, I’d be happier with myself and my life would go better’.

The images we are presented with these days from movies, television, magazines and newspapers are real but not real, the people represented in them maybe real but the images are not as have been subject to edits that in some circumstances show someone to be something they are not. Yet even if we know these are not real these are still presented as representations of how a modern woman or man should be. If anyone is not fitting with this view, many often laugh at them in the way some with disabilities were regarded as freaks for a circus in Victorian times, but who are we to act as judge and jury to another we know or don’t for gaining weight but celebrating another losing, when we ourselves are not perfect. This idealisation of being a specific body mass index as in some way it’s a number to show we are within ideals, but it is only a number, like our weight or height, that says nothing about a person’s personality…it really is comparable with shoe size in that respect! By chasing perfection we’re trying to catch a fish with a hole in the net, it is flawed and unrealistic. Looking at a meadow of flowers in spring to the leaves falling from the trees in autumn, all are different shapes and sizes as even within nature nothing is perfect, should that not be telling us something?

We look in a mirror ,sometimes conjuring up images of someone we want to be if only this outer shell was different…if I lost weight, had bigger breasts/muscles, or was a bit taller, I’d be happier…but happier how? Have we actually stopped to think that this shell is just that as it is within that the beauty really is? Some try to say it is “only ugly people say that”, which I think is bollocks, it is only ugly people that say it is about looks only as cannot see beyond the image they see. A person’s beauty shines from within to the outside, but narrow-mindedness and prejudice eats away at this so twists their view of how either gender should look. Happiness is not something we can buy, yet many think by creating a new version of themselves via a surgeon’s knife or buying certain things like “diet” drinks or pills we will be. We’re being brainwashed into believing this image of beauty is the norm and achieving it will bring us happiness, which many wonder why they are failing to find this happiness. Some spend money on “beauty” products but is like adding glitter and stars to a tortoise’s shell, it adds nothing but a bit of colour or a mask to hide the real us from the world.

For the last five years I have been on a journey of not just self-discovery but self love, appreciation, respect and understanding. I thought I truly was ugly compared with my peers and the world around me, being laughed at and mocked. I had thought since I was 18 I was the love child of Frankenstein and the Hunchback of Notre Dame, but I never resorted to surgery or pills to change it as I could not look in the mirror and I realised I was “stuck” like this for the rest of my life. However, between 2008-2009 I had lost weight to the extent I looked ill, I had people at my work place concerned for my well being, and I knew deep down the key to happiness was not my weight, it certainly had not helped my self confidence in feeling sexier or prettier. With the advent of selfies becoming more and more the norm, I turned the camera on to myself, and asked “is that really what I look like!?” I realise now I am not ugly or unloveable, I am just me, which may not grace the covers of magazines or newspapers, be a famous musician or movie star, but who really wants to be with people constantly judging your every bad hair day and weight gain.

When we make the image of ourselves in our heads it is not what to outside world sees, in fact as I learnt many are just hoping that nobody is laughing at them. Anyone who imposes how another should look be they are magazine or partner deserves a slap on the face, only we truly know what our shells of a body can and cannot do and these are not representations of the people we see about our streets. Furthermore, if someone is slimmer or larger than normal we should not be jealous of the slim one who maybe trying to gain weight just as the larger one maybe trying to lose it. We should not change who we are to fit among the “cool” gang by altering our personality, this also applies to our outer shell. By chasing these ideals we’re trying to throw off our shell like it was a layer of an onion and reveal a new one but humans the layers are inside not outside.. Equally, we’re not robots that are programmed to be one thing, we’re filled with emotions that different things trigger different ones, we’re pieces of art that our behaviour and actions paint the person we are beyond the initial image of our shell. Finally, we are part of the natural world, we are beautiful because of our imperfections not despite them, think of a four leaf clover that is said to be lucky but the majority have only three, its beauty is in its difference and imperfectness.

© Fi S. J. Brown

Shiny Happy People

It is said that there are nine common traits of happy people but they do not talk about them. I have listed the nine below and considered each one, how I feel about each one from my own experiences and knowledge. Am I really one of the world’s shiny happy people, or am I still stuck with depression filling my head with it’s darkness and endless tunnels?

1. “Love themselves for who they are” – Whilst I would concur this is true I would say it is more a self respect and appreciation for who who we are rather than a love. Accepting what this shell of a body can and cannot do, not wanting to change who we are to fit among the “cool” gang, and knowing when we give our best, that is enough for me.

2. “See relationships as an extension to, rather than the basis of the human experience” – I have known others to be depressed when single or unable to do something as need someone to do it with them. For me, I spend much of my time alone and enjoy the new things friends can teach me about life as much as the things we both share.

3. “Embrace change” – For me change in this world is something that happens all the time, there is no point in worrying as it will go the way it’s meant to be every time, even when it hurts hard. Each day is like an empty page, some is filled in with routine but remember the spaces inbetween are for new adventures and experiences, good and bad.

4. “Celebrate rather than compare themselves to the accomplishments of others” – I see people doing their best every day, if I have achieved similar I can share the feelings they maybe feeling now, but even if I have not, I know that they will have given their best to achieve it. Know the little things we have achieved are most often the greatest.

5. “Never dwell in being a victim” – Somethings that have happened in my life hurt badly but I have learnt these are part of who I am, so do not dwell on the pain they cause (mental and physical) but see them as patches that the love of good friends stitch together and give me strength to carry on even if feel the darkness descend upon me. 

6. “They live in the present” – I know how tempting it is to replay past memories, good and bad, or look forward to a future that will never come. Instead I realise today is the only day that matters, to be the best I can be today as these actions and those around me will be the foundations of tomorrow and will soon also be memories of the past.

7. “Trust that everything happens for a reason” – Good or bad, it’s the experience, lessons from it and how we react to it that matters most. If I had not done what seemed frivolous at the time, I would not have the good friends I now have in my life. Sometimes it is hard to see others having success when we do not, but ours may come in another form.

8. “They don’t let money dictate their lives” – From my earliest years I could not understand the global fixation with money, how one country could have so much more when others had so little. I see it as a necessary evil, as allows us to do things we may not otherwise do and do not need a credit card to allow me to have a “good night out.”

9. “Look within for solutions” – I have learnt it is my instincts I must trust when making decisions, reading around a subject before choosing what makes sense for me today. What I choose may not suit another but that is why I will not push my ideas on others, merely suggest to them to trust themselves with their own life skills and knowledge.

After over 35 years I guess I truly am happy within, something I never thought I was allowed to be. I may never have the white wedding or 2.4 kids, but those have not been what my life has been for. Equally, the future is such an expanse into the unknown, I would rather dip my toes in the present not jump ahead. Free to be me, not adding to the darkness.

© Fi S. J. Brown