Spikes or Flower?

Spikes or Flower?

This cactus came from a family holiday in Lanzarote as a tiny sprout. It has been cared for since then, watered, fed, changed to a bigger pot, and has sunshine shining down on it, when it is actually sunny in Northern Ireland… Some people may still just see it as this spiky useless thing. They may not see the tiny, intricate, beautiful flowers it has produced.

I know a lot of people who on the outside may look quite scary and sharp; sometimes us who happen to ride motorcycles may be looked upon as loud, scary and rough. As with the beautiful flowers on my cactus, it is for the beholder to see what they wish.

So what are the spines (spikes) for? They are not thorns, rather they are modified leaves, and keep some predators away from the water inside, but also help on a misty or foggy night to trap some water, which then falls down the smooth cactus to the ground and is able to be absorbed by the roots.

So if you think of people who may be protecting themselves in this, sometimes, dry and arid world, devoid of empathy, they may use defenses to keep people away. If you look closely at a cactus it usually has a beautiful smooth surface behind the spines. If we cared enough to really see a person we may see the beautiful smooth stem, the spines all designed so intricately to protect, and the fruit that it produces, for this cactus it is the stunning flowers.

A person behind the spikes could be a father, mother, sister, brother, son, daughter, friend or any number of very kind things to many people. Going with the bikers again, I know most bikers have very big kind hearts and do many things to help people, maybe a charity bike run to raise money for little children who need some sunshine to shine down on them, and raise money to help them.

As both a biker and a counsellor I am privileged to know a lot of people who may on the outside have a lot of spines to protect themselves, after being hurt in this world. I know that behind these spines is a beautiful soul that is very kind and helpful to others, despite what has happened to them. I know the fruit they are producing and how they help others to flourish.

As you can read I look at a cactus very differently, and it means a lot to me. I find comfort in the spiky spines. It is a reminder to me that spiky people may be a lot different behind that defense. It reminds me if someone is spiky to me that if I negotiate them spiky spines carefully, the smoother, calmer person is there. The beautiful flowers this cactus produces twice a year, reminds me how a person can flourish, if they recieve the correct care and attention we all require in this world. Thanks for reading, Stephen.

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

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How Small and Insignificant Are You?

Mindfulness can be practiced in so many ways and places. Just now as I was driving home from work, in the dark, on a busy road with roadworks, I was approaching my turn off. I noticed running at the side of the road a tiny little brown field mouse. This is through being aware in the present moment of where I am in the here and now. I am not that keen on mice, but, in this moment it was a beautiful thing to behold.

Amongst very large machines, cars and roadworks, this brave little mouse is still going about his or her daily life, among all the hustle and bustle, usually unnoticed. How much can we feel like this mouse at times… I don’t know what this mouse was doing, but he could have been making a huge difference in his little world, feeding his family, going to the mouse shop for a treat for his wife, after she had a hard day with the baby mice, rushing to help another mouse have the confidence to cross the road home to his safe house…

Humour, but, when we feel small and insignificant, mindfulness can allow you the space, time, and kindness, for yourself to slow everything down, and allow the feelings of compassion and significance to come back which you deserve for what you have done today. For example, if you smiled at one person today that has the power to change their world.

I also changed my route home tonight just so I could drive quietly and slowly over a dark mountain and see the bright stars from the darkness of that mountain road. It was calming and peaceful. How many people could have travelled that way and not stopped and noticed the creation all around us?

Stuck In A Well!

Stuck In A Well!

As Depression Awareness Week is nearly over, have you become more aware of what your own depression is? Or what someone you know is going through daily with depression?

My picture of depression is someone stuck down a deep, dark well, and cannot get out on their own. This person needs help. This person can hear people living life, having fun, going about their daily business, but this depressed person can’t, as they only see the deep, dark well of depression they are stuck in.

This depressed person is too far down in the well of depression for someone to come along and lift them out. It will take a few small, careful, trained steps, to aid this depressed person out. The key statement here is aiding the depressed person. No-one can help if the depressed person is not ready for the help.

A counsellor can walk the journey alongside the depressed person, in small, calculated, trained steps, to help the depressed person adjust to the light, as they are coming out of the deep well of depression.

I as a counsellor do not lift a person out of the depression well. I walk the journey with them, allowing the depressed person to gain skills to aid themselves to stop getting stuck in the well of depression in the future, or to look in it next time, stand beside it, but not fall into the well and become trapped in their own black despair of depression.

If you are depressed, please ask to get help, or if you know someone who is depressed, gently, try to help them to get help. It is life threatening.

The words below are not mine (composer unknown) but go along with my thoughts of depression.

Thanks for reading and sharing to help others, Stephen.

“One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!”

MORAL :
Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free your heart from hatred – Forgive.

2. Free your mind from worries – Most never happens.

3. Live simply and appreciate what you have.

4. Give more.

5. Expect less from people but more from God.