Sonnet

I long for what I can no longer be,
strong limbs that move and never question how.
I long for who I can no longer see,
the one who disappeared and left me now
to tread life’s path a very different way;
a stranger in a world that I once knew
where land and sky just seem to fall away
and raging, rolling seas, my soul imbrue.
Until a shaft of light somewhere appears
and lulls the tempest to soft whispered waves
that ripple on the shore, allaying fears
restoring peace and hope my spirit craves.
The sun, the moon, the earth now realigned,
and I am who I thought I’d left behind.

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Glenda and Me – Swimming Away from the Titanic

Sometimes as we find ourselves wading through adversity and maybe feeling a little lost, the sweet fragrance of synchronicity fills the air and the room suddenly becomes laden with summer flowers in full bloom on a cold January morning.

When I decided to join a writing group 15 months ago. I entered the room tentatively and with trepidation, feeling somewhat clumsy with my four wheeled walker. I was even more nervous as I was joining a couple of weeks after the term had begun and felt the others would have already started getting to know each other.

As I was introducing myself the door opened very slowly and another lady new to the group was arriving.  She was in a powered wheelchair and took up her place next to me; we smiled. She introduced herself to the group as Glenda and a light bulb moment occurred for me. Was this the same Glenda who my hairdresser Chris, had told me about? He has been trying his best to make me look beautiful for many years so we always chat quite intimately, and because he knows of my MS he told me, not long after my diagnosis, of another client of his called Glenda, who  has MS and how he now goes to her home to do her hair as she can no longer sit at the salon. I had given Chris a copy of my Journey Into Poetry book and he asked me if I had a spare copy, could he have one to give to her because he knew she liked poetry. Glenda duly received her copy of the book.
During the break I plucked up the courage to speak to Glenda.
“Does Chris Wallbank by any chance cut your hair?” I said. She looked at me, a little puzzled, and said,
“Yes, he does, why?”.
“I’m called Christine”, I said,  “and I think you may have a copy of a poetry book I have written”.
“Oh my goodness”, she said,  “I have!  Chris has told me all about you!”.

We were not aware of it on that day, but a strong bond and friendship was about to begin.  A year later, we are firm friends and it feels like we have been so for years.
A while ago I was going through a difficult time with the MS and was telling Glenda all about it; she was very supportive. She is further along this rocky road we both ‘walk’  and has encountered, and been hit by, many huge, frightening boulders along the way and yet always remains positive, looking for the small daily gifts. To use her words, “Adversity heightens our enjoyment of life as it keeps us more in the moment as we experience it, and it creates shining highlights for us”.
Her wonderful support that day led to my writing the following poem for her. I emailed it to her and she told me she was overwhelmed by the fact that I had written it for her.  We become closer by the day.

Swimming Away from The Titanic

I suppose we are quite different
in many ways.
But here we are, thrown together
at a random moment in time
by creativity and illness,
two of us keeping afloat
on the same flotsam of
our own personal Titanic,
waltzing with icebergs.

She seems better at it than me somehow,
this illness thing,
more professional, more skilled
while I flounder about, a mere trainee
unable to cope with this or that
or the other.

I wish acceptance grew on trees.

I ask her for advice,
tell her how I cant stop crying
at something seemingly trivial
and she understands.

I want to be able to help her too;
maybe I do.

We have come together
at different stages of our journey
and I am very grateful.
I look for something to thank
so I gaze at the stars
with their brimming drops of light,
and say thank you for a cold January morning
when limbs protested far too much,
and we both grappled for the same
small piece of wreckage that is still afloat.

Maybe one day, together, we will swim away.

Some personal thoughts at the beginning of a new year, and a poem

A new year is here and I feel very grateful to be alive. I am ‘walking’ hand in hand with January carrying optimism and hope, both vital for my well-being, and while I am not wishing away the days, I am very much looking forward to the springtime when I can once more greet the fresh air and spend precious time in its loving company.

I don’t make resolutions but I do take a look at certain aspects of my life and make a few adjustments here and there. MS obviously plays big role in this these days and I need to keep everything about it in perspective while firmly facing the truth of what it is.

Everyone with this condition lives with it on a very personal level and no two people are the same either symptom-wise or affected in the same way by the same symptoms others may experience. Hence I will stop reading ‘miracle’ stories of those who are leaping out of wheelchairs because of which MS friendly diet they have decided to follow. This only leads to frustration and hours of beating myself up for ‘failing’, as my particular condition progresses.

The disease of MS is not given the name ‘progressive’ as a flimsy decoration; it is what it says it is. However, I have spent many hours researching diet and it can and does definitely help, either by providing a much improved sense of well-being, mostly that of an increase in energy levels, either physical or mental and/or possibly slowing down progression, but the latter is, of course, not evidence based as yet. So I have embarked on a specific diet worked out by myself for myself that suits my needs and one that is working very well for me. Exercise is also essential and there again we can only do what is within our own physical capabilities, even if that means a few gentle stretches; it all helps.

My main and firm resolve for this year is to hand nothing over to others that I can still do for myself however difficult it may seem. But there is a fine line between stubbornness and determination; they are, I believe, on opposite sides of the same coin and I will try to recognise when I am in danger of flipping that coin to my detriment.

I wish you all a peaceful and content year ahead full of those two vitals of optimism and hope.

Below is a poem from my new book, Dancing in the Rain which hopefully will be available on Amazon soon. There is now just one formality which is taking longer than expected.

Be Awake

When you walk along the path
do not be unaware of how
your legs are moving,
how your hands are free to wave,
or oblivious to the tender
wilderness that bends and sways
but never breaks.
And don’t just hear, but listen
to the comforting call
of a collared dove as he
tips his hat to say hello
though some may say he only squawks.
And the wood pigeons too;
listen, hear how
their song is different from the dove.

I’m not saying stop being busy
because that’s on the to-do list of life.
All I’m saying is don’t be unaware,
don’t sleep through it all,
don’t miss anything.
Be awake.

A Bad Good Dream

A Bad Good Dream

Eyes half open
you realize it’s morning
and although a dream-soaked
forest of night,
star-scattered moon path,
insisted everything was well
and as before –
so excited you found you could run,
right arm normal again
pointing full stretch toward a Snowy Owl –
daylight now smirks a different truth.
You slide from the bed
good side first,
drag a broken body to the bathroom.
The mirror witnesses it all;
tsunami in a single tear of sadness.

 

This is just how it goes sometimes. Writing and sharing dilutes these emotions, restores gratitude, and maybe others going through the same feelings may at least realise they are not alone.

What I Thought Was Mine

Today as I walk

toward hope of a clearer truth,

the one that all the books say is the best,

I will still rail against this pernicious disease

and go nowhere gently

because I am who I am.

I shall do mindful moments and meditate,

emerge feeling free –

for a while at least

assured that this is the way

because we all know that

now is all we have.

But beneath all,

I will silently seethe and shout

while I pointlessly crave my old life

as every day that passes it seems

a little more of what I thought was mine

is taken away.

The Tree, Heraclitus and Me

 From where I sit at home my gaze falls every day upon the same tree in the garden.  It has been a focal point for thoughts, reflections, doubts and fears, my coffee companion and a calm source of inspiration for the beginnings of many poems, which leads me to wonder where I would be without all that surrounds me in my particular corner of the natural world, its beauty and how it speaks to me. The tree appears like an old sage, calm, stoical and accepting no matter what; I could learn much if I took more notice. It weathers storms as well as scorching sun without expectation or judgement, and today it is telling me in its own gentle way that very soon all will change, and it will be okay.

I don’t like change, but as we know it is the one constant in life. I researched the origin of these wise words; they were said by Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher pre Socrates; he lived 500 years BC. I think he and the tree in my garden would make a good team.

So, how do I manage this constant of change in the context of my illness and its pernicious nature as it steals more and more from me? I think, sometimes, not very well, although this may be a little harsh (tendency to berate myself lingers), until I remind myself or receive a reminder from elsewhere that tomorrow’s bit hasn’t been stolen yet, so why dwell on something that hasn’t happened.

Life’s journey takes us along many different roads; some of them we can feel are unwanted and, for me, Multiple Sclerosis is one of them. Along this frightening path so far I have stumbled over stones and tree stumps of disbelief, denial, grief and despair many times. Some of those tumbles have been headlong. I have sustained heavy bumps and bruises, most of them very distressing, but maybe necessary, to bring me to awareness within that I never thought was accessible, of coming to know myself with all my imperfections and faults, learning to acknowledge them without judgement, rather like the tree. As time passes, hopefully what I continue to learn will gift to me some wisdom to reflect on all I have accomplished in the past and to celebrate it so, rather than bemoan the fact that those things are no longer possible for me to do.  I am presented with daily challenges (we all are), and I can either use these as opportunities for growth or see them as an obstacle in my way; the choice is mine.

The road is long. As a friend of mine says, who has travelled alongside the debilitating effects of MS for many years, “We do what we can till we can no longer do it, and then we find something else we can do”. The key for me is to keep on finding, and feel a sense of peace and contentment with it despite the changes, a new satisfying place to arrive at. I visualise a purple hillside strewn with heather where I can allow myself time to simply be, and admire the ever changing view of my part of the natural world.

Today the wind blows wild. Leaves are falling up instead of down; a few branches are broken, others have snapped and fallen to the ground. The tree stands tall, roots grounded firmly in equanimity.

 Image

Anthology

I am thrilled to have several of my poems included in a new anthology The book is called Touching MS – Poetic Expressions, and all the poems are written by MS patients from all over the world.

 As most of you know I started writing poetry shortly after my diagnosis, and it was, and still is, a very therapeutic exercise for me, but I am now beginning to spread my wings a little and I write on other topics too. Writing poetry has saved my sanity during the very difficult past two years, (the little bit I may have left, that is!!).

Of course, all my poems included in this anthology are related in some way to MS and the book is divided into sections such as hope, acceptance, humour, kinship, denial, diagnosis etc.

The fact that some of what I have written so far is now “out there”, and hopefully on its way to helping others come to terms with/manage this horrible condition, is a dream come true. So I would like to thank all of you who are following my blog, especially those who have followed me from the beginning of this scary part of my journey, for your strong support and encouragement. If MS has any bonuses at all, then a huge one is the fabulous friendships that have been forged over the past two very difficult years. Thank you all!! 🙂

Here is a link to the book Touching MS Poetic Expressions

Between Shit and Serenity

I can say with all honesty that
I am grateful for what I have,
but I also grieve for what I have lost;
mobility, independence,
that sense of purpose,
a busyness, some of it possibly
extrinsic, but it led me to become
who I was; it defined me

and now all that’s changed
and sometimes I feel lost,
like a small child losing its
mother in a large store,
frightened and alone.

So I listen to words of wisdom
that tell me I am not my body,
that it’s my spirit that counts
and truly lives, which I know
is the essential truth,
and simple to grasp when
I sit cosily with a heat pack
against my back, coffee and cake,
and practice Dharma,

until I am reminded that I have
an appointment within the next hour
and I have to stand up, get ready,
walk, negotiate uneven paths,
heavy doors, awkward people.

I do not see my body as a bonus
and find myself flitting endlessly
every day
between shit and serenity.

Being Real – Being Me

Being Real – Being Me

She’s so brave,
I can hear them say,
never complains,
always a smile on her face.

They are not talking
about me.

They are talking about
someone whose
disabilities are far more
debilitating than mine.

I am not so brave;
I do complain;
I don’t always have
a smile on my face.

But I do my best
and that’s enough.

Wendy L. Macdonald

My faith is not shallow because I've been rescued from the deep.

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