International Women’s Day 2017: Woman

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Source: Google

WOMAN

Woman rise free and strong
Don’t be subservient to a world all wrong
A world that says stay home and imitate a bee
The busy, busy worker bee

No! Woman you are wise, mighty and free
Free to be an amazing tool
Free to rule in whatever capacity
You choose to decree

That’s not to say
We rise and lose our femininity
It is to say, we stand proud
And claim our rightful place in society

A worker bee is simply that
A powerful creature in its own right
And so we don’t denigrate that little mite, but own
The premise that each creature

Stakes its place in time and space
So women of the world unite
And take a bite of that cherry
Taste and see how sweet

Sashay and move those dancing feet
We don’t need to run a home to
Show that this is our rightful place
We can choose to be whatever

We want to be or do
Doctor, lawyer, street cleaner
Creativity comes from within
It is divine and it’s your right

See that cherry – go ahead and bite!
Succulent and sweet its taste
Tarry for a while
Don’t haste

Woman you dictate your style!

© Marie Williams 2009

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On going soft in the head

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Esme Upon the Cloud said this:
“I love how this starts, you set the scene so well that the reader is right there on that road in Oxford with you and Mickie; but moreso how it suddenly blooms into joy with a sudden awareness of love. Of metta”

And because I couldn’t have put it any better, Hariod, I have used her words to introduce your excellent post on ‘metta’. I am so pleased that in some small way I was able to inspire you to write this – thank you. Metta.

contentedness.net

Jessica. By Thomas Hawk, San Francisco Jessica. By Thomas Hawk, San Francisco — The homeless girl with love in her eyes.

It was during a balmy mid-afternoon in Central Oxford that I and my friend of some 20 years’ standing gingerly negotiated a crossing of the busy street that had first been lain a millennia ago during Saxon times — then a loosely set cobbled carriageway running northwards up from the ford of the oxen at Grandpont, some half mile or so distant along adjoining St. Aldates. The year was 1992 and a palpably self-satisfied, Thatcher-hewn metropolitan hum of affluence pervaded the air in equal measure to the oppressive diesel fumes belching from the buses and taxis that laboured and lurched their way along Cornmarket Street towards Carfax, twixt which our body’s wove, breathing in unnatural rhythms, yet mysteriously embracing the effluvium with bare arms and wide open hearts, unburdened neither by concerns nor the otherwise ubiquitously lugged, logo-laden…

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Love is like the Sea

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LOVE IS LIKE THE SEA

beachandsun
Image – source unknown

Love is like the sea
There are hidden depths
You never know how deep it is
If you only stick your toe in
Just think how much more
We have yet to discover –
Let’s jump in!

Romantic love can be
A source of pleasure and of pain
You have to let your spirit reign
With majesty yet humbly
In order to gain
The greatest gift humans can share –
Come on, let’s swim away!

And now we’re floating, like a boat
And now we’re diving – water in my throat
But that’s just how it is and will always be
Sometimes floating like a dream
Other times we want to choke
Unless we go for broke
And stroke this crazy emotion – we’ll be left standing on the shore!

© Copyright – Marie Williams – April 2009
Love is like the Sea

Primary Colours

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“Achievement has no color”
― Abraham Lincoln

Sometimes I feel that I will burst if I hear once again first and black in the same sentence. I have nothing against being first or excelling or being supreme in a chosen field or in a competition or even in a queue, but when I hear the words first and black, my spirit sighs and it’s as if I want to die. I know this sounds so exaggerated, and I don’t wish to degrade the achievements of those who have reached the pinnacle through sheer hard work, devotion to a cause, or mastered their craft.

Why is it that in the 21st century, when we have come so far, in terms of addressing racism, colour prejudice and the way we treat others in terms of the colour of their skin, speaking boldly about equality, diversity, inclusion and acceptance of other’s culture, mixing pots, melting pots, you name it – there’s a term which embraces it, yet still the races are not equal, such a pity that our ethnicity has shown that we haven’t grown and how much further we still need to go. It is woeful, that we are hearing about the first black president, the first black film director, the first black model on the cover of Vogue UK. It’s neither wonderful or amazing in my book. Yes of course the achievements are – of that there is no doubt. But ought we still to be referring to skin colour when praise is due? Is it some sort of an extraordinary feat to be both black and an achiever? Are those terms mutually exclusive, so when it coincides – ought we to be doubly impressed?

How can we as a race in present times, allow for such archaic language to seep into our consciousness? When Barack Obama became president of the United States of America, was it necessary for us to be enlightened and educated about the hue of his skin? And Steve McQueen of ’12 Years a Slave’ fame, when he became the happy recipient of an Academy Award for Best Picture, did it enhance the view to know that he was black? Would that have escaped our notice somehow, imagining that all the audience were in some way colour blind on that auspicious night? My heart sinks when I think that Donyale Luna a black model who covered in Vogue UK was the first to do so. But I was heartened when I heard the editor of Vogue UK (Alexandra Shulman) talking on the radio about this and I smiled when the presenter commented on her [Luna] being the first black model to do so, to which the editor responded “could we drop the ‘first black’ please?” A woman after my own heart!

~ Marie Williams 2017

What if?

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FGM may I introduce you to Chevvy8? I’m not sure if this is a coincidence …
What if it isn’t a coincidence? What if …?

WORDS IN THE LIGHT

What if
I close my eyes?

What if
you cross the Sea?

What if
I hold my breath?

What if
you make the wind chime sing?

What if
I let the breeze carry me?

What if
you let me see?

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What ifs

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Thank you Chevvy. This is lovely and relevant on so many levels for me and especially the 4th line of the second verse. I hope ‘What If’s’ resonates with others too …

Chevvy's Studio

train

These questions that gnaw at me,

nibbling at the joy that life brings,

feeding me with cheesy excuses,

muddling doubts, impotent fears,

stealing glitter off golden moments,

when I should have been totally here,

not wondering on my own out there –

an exile behind my own prison walls.

What if this is what was meant for me

all along, complete with every crack,

every blemish that prizes the antique,

aspired by most but afforded to a few.

What if I had made an irrevocable error–

taking the bus and not boarding the train,

believing that life had to ride the highway

instead of pausing at each station en route?

What if there were no what ifs to choose–

where automation usurped my controls,

clipped my wings so that I could not fly?

Would I be the me that has reason to be?

What if I told you that this…

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“It’s Good to Talk …”

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crazybagladydoors
Image: Courtesy of TheCrazyBagLady

HEALING HURT
(Talking Therapy)

In moments of pure fantasy
And wild imagination
I fancy that Karen could be
Just distantly
Related to Julius!

But I’m rudely awakened
And snap back to reality
As beaming, in black she beckons me
To her small but cosy surgery

Karen Caesar sees me as
Her work in progress
She’s dedicated to releasing
And decreasing the pressure

That calls me religiously
Each fortnight on a Friday
To discuss with some intensity
The demons that bind me

For Karen Caesar
Explained her calling
At the end of a session
Which begged me to question

The degree of her ability
To address the responsibility
Of dealing with healing
The complexity of the human psyche

Karen Caesar tells me
That caring seized her
From a very young age
And at the stage

Where she felt that
She was able to lend her
Tender, and compassionate bearing
To caring for victims
Whose minds were so painfully hurting

It’s a splendid opportunity
This talking therapy
To engage with a professional
As dedicated as Karen
Caesar, who certainly aspires

To deliver with some certainty
A tireless and dedicated approach
And unstinting efficacy

To help her patient,
Speak, cry or remain silent
In her surmountable journey
Of feeling, healing and self discovery!

Dedicated to Dr Karen Caesar

This poem was written eight years ago, but I thought it tied in nicely with my posts on agoraphobia which having spanned 17 years of my life to date has had an enormous impact on my life and the way I live. My counsellor encouraged my creative side which emerged in the form of poetry as I started my healing journey. She said very kindly when we parted after a year in counselling that she would be the first to buy my poems if they were ever published.

I also want to thank TheCrazyBagLady for allowing me to use her sketch in this post. I saw it months ago before I even decided I was going to write about agoraphobia, but I felt at the time that it was such a beautiful sketch that I would one day use it. The opportunity came today and I took it, just as TheCrazyBagLady says on her sketch: “Every day another door opens”.

And to close, in the words of British Telecom (in their sales initiative some years ago): “It’s good to talk…”

~ Marie Williams 2017

copyright Marie Williams – 2009

Agoraphobia: part 2: Professor Green, Talking Therapy and Me

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Warning: this post contains references to rap which might not be everyone’s cup of tea. But I hope this will not prevent you from reading to the end.

You may remember that in my last post I spoke about agoraphobia and how it impacted my life. Not to go on at length, but to explain how Professor Green (a British rapper, not a University professor) helped me in my own healing process, I would like to share my thoughts with you. I also want to touch on talking therapy/counselling which I really believed saved me during this uncertain and debilitating period of my life.

I was at home watching ‘Loose Women’* on television, and Professor Green was a guest on the programme. Professor Green is a well-known rapper who catapulted to fame in recent years. He is a young man who has documented how his early life impacted the way he is today and how his music reflects this. He grew up on a council estate in London, mainly raised by his grandmother. His father was absent for most of his life. This affected him in many negative ways, but he rose above this to become an international rap star. Professor Green’s father took his own life shortly after he had become reconciled with his son many years later and after he [Green] had become famous. This devastated him and he has since recorded a television programme about suicide in which he speaks openly about his love for his grandmother (who stabilised his childhood) and the impact his father’s untimely death had on his own life.

To get to the point, Professor Green spoke about counselling on Loose Women. He talked about how it helped him come to terms with his ‘demons’. I was incredibly impressed and touched at how openly this young man spoke about his own experiences with mental health issues that I listened with more interest than usual. Having my own mental health issues (PTSD, chronic anxiety and agoraphobia) his thoughts resonated with me.

Here comes the rapping! Those of you who have had the ‘pleasure’ of watching last year’s ‘X Factor’ will get a better feel of what I’d like you to do if you watched Honey G’s performance as a contestant. Honey G would rap saying:

“When I say Honey, you say G”, and this would be repeated many times, depending on how the audience received it. It went down really well. If you like that sort of thing. It’s a matter of taste. So here is my version:

When I say: ‘Professor’ you say: ‘Green’
Me: When I say Professor
You say: Green!
Me: When I say Professor
You say: ‘Green’

I was sittin’ in my home
All alone
got no friends
To call my own
Wanting someone to pick up the ‘phone
give me a call
so I don’t drown
In my sorrows
On my own

Me: When I say Professor
You say: Green!
Me: When I say Professor
You say: Green!

Mental health
has got a bad rap
That’s why I’m gonna
Put it on the map!
Shout it loud
and shout it clear
Mental health
There’s nothing to fear!

Me: When I say Professor
You say: Green
x2

I hope you managed to get a rhythm going. That helps! I hope Lady G and Tareau weren’t the only ones rapping along with me. Were you rapping Hariod? Anna?

Seriously, Professor Green was instrumental in getting me back on the road to recovery. He not only talked about how counselling helped him in his darkest periods, but he went on to say that although his situation was much improved, he still used counselling as therapy whenever he felt he needed it. And consequently, he was at present in therapy. Those words propelled me into action. If Professor Green was on daytime television, advocating counselling and he was not ashamed or embarrassed, what say me?

After the programme, I immediately went on-line to research counsellors in my area. I was very fortunate to find someone who has been incredibly helpful and who has allowed me to see that my case is not hopeless. That was over one year ago and I haven’t looked back since. Thanks Professor Green! I am not going to suggest that a few trips to a counsellor will make everything better. It takes time. It takes a willingness to partake in your own healing. It takes courage. It takes persistence. It takes faith. Often time, it can seem there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I’d like to encourage those who feel that there is no way out, that I found mine, and you can too.

~ Marie Williams 2017

* ‘Loose Women’ is a day-time television programme in which a panel of women discuss current topics.
– Final Part 3 to follow

Agoraphobia: What it Means for Me

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Agoraphobia: What it Means for Me

Hello. I am Marie and I have agoraphobia.

I often wondered what it would be like to stand up in a crowded room and admit this to everyone. I think to be able to talk about it here is quite freeing. For a long time, I felt ashamed of not being able to leave my home. I felt as if I was a failure and lacking in some way. That I wasn’t a bona fide human being. That I couldn’t be trusted to carry out one of the most basic of functions: get dressed, open my front door, step out on to the path and walk to the gate, open it and walk out on to the street with the aim of carrying out and completing a task. I was a failure.

My journey has been long and arduous spanning 17 years. Seventeen years seems like a lifetime written down and in many cases it does feel as if a huge part of my life has been impacted by this condition.

We all know that mental health issues are seen as taboo. Something we don’t talk about because it is perceived as shameful and an embarrassment and reflects badly on you. Well this is how I felt 17 years ago when it started. I didn’t even know the condition had a name and I certainly didn’t know it was agoraphobia. I had heard of the word of course – very few of us haven’t, but had I really ever thought about what it meant? To be honest, no I had not because before I got it, or should I say, it got me, I wasn’t that bothered. Sure we hear all sorts of related terminology: panic attacks, anxiety attacks to name two, but somehow until it happens to you, it doesn’t register fully.

Seventeen years ago, without any warning I started to feel odd and strange. I felt funny walking along the road as if I wasn’t fully in charge of my body. My vision was slightly blurred and my legs felt weak and I had a tremor. That’s the only way I could describe it. It made me concerned enough to go to the doctor and explain that I felt something was wrong. I described the symptoms to him but all he did was write a prescription and advise me to take a few days off work. Those few days turned into several weeks and about the fourth week my GP said it was time I went back to work because I was costing the National Health Service (NHS) money. I wasn’t any better, I had no idea what was wrong with me, and there had been no diagnosis from the doctor.

I went back to work but continually had to take time off because my symptoms were getting worse and it was becoming increasingly difficult to leave home because I felt afraid and unsafe. At times I would literally freeze on the road, unable to move my feet forwards.

Eventually after 5 years of various tests and trips back and forth to the hospital I was diagnosed with chronic anxiety and agoraphobia. During that time, the agoraphobia got to the stage where I was a prisoner in my home. Every time I got ready to go out feelings of trepidation would flood my body. My body had a mind of its own – it would foil every plan I made to leave home to go to the shops for food, go to the GP or make plans to meet with friends.

During that time I became lonely, depressed and felt as if I was completely alone. Friends didn’t want to know. They would occasionally telephone, but I saw no one. I would have been so grateful to see a friendly face at my door, enquiring how I was, if they could help in any way or if they could get something from the shops for me as I couldn’t do it myself. But no there was no help and I realised that my mental health issue had not only become a problem for me, but it had alienated me from friends and to some extent family. Had I been afflicted with a broken leg, or measles or something tangible, I’m sure those illnesses would not have been seen as so threatening. Not being able to go out on my own, invisible as an indication of the problem I had, but not tangible enough to warrant empathy and understanding left me alone and floundering.

I have been fortunate to have received therapy from counselling services, which has helped greatly in the process of healing and moving forward with my life. I am now improved as I can get out more. Not as much as I would like. Each day brings new challenges, but “I rise” to quote Maya Angelou.

Healing does not happen overnight as many of you well know. From connecting with others here in the blogging world, it has not escaped my notice how many of us are in therapy for anxiety related issues. In the past I might have been reluctant to share my experience as I would’ve been embarrassed or ashamed, but I see now that I need not be. And this is because of the many wonderful people I have met on WordPress who have bravely, and candidly shared their own remarkable stories here.

~ Marie Williams

The Premio Dardos Award

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premio-dardos-award1

The Premio Dardos Award

‘Poetry is what happens when language becomes impossible.’
– author unknown

I thank [Between Two Tides]vronlacroix for nominating this blog for a Premio Dardos Award. Veronica blogs at http://33580laborde.wordpress.com. I must apologise Veronica, for the time it has taken me to accept this award. I believe it has been two years since your nomination. We have spoken recently and we did agree that it was never too late to accept an award. Your posts pictures and poems are so beautiful and inspiring and I hope others will agree with me on this.

I would like to pass on the award through nomination to others who have ‘cultural, ethical, literary and personal values transmitted in the form of creative and original writing’. They are: at this point I cannot possibly name any blogs which are more deserving of this award than others. In some ways it would be like choosing between my children: an impossible task. So what I will say is that, I would like to thank everyone who has taken the time to read, like and comment on my posts. It has been an enormous pleasure to have this connection and to share with so many gifted and talented bloggers all with something important and valuable to say. I pass on the award to you. I also know that there are many among you who do not accept awards, but I hope you will appreciate the gesture.

The Rules to Accept:
Those of you who would like to accept the award, the rules are to accept the award by posting it on your blog along with the name of the person that has granted the award. Include the images of ‘Premio Dardos’ in the post, and pass the award to other blogs worthy of this acknowledgement.

And finally, I’d like to wish you all a very Happy New Year!

~ Marie Williams 2017