Attention is love

One of my favourite quotes comes from the Zen Buddhist John Tarrant Roshi; “Attention is the most basic form of love. Through it to we blessed and are blessed.”

I’ve been thinking about attention over the last month – or more, how I planned to be really focused, to catch up on a ton of projects, and how all my plans went out of the window.

My mother was admitted to hospital out of the blue, so in many ways my attention has been scattered, lurching between concerns about the present and some pretty scary thinking about the future.

But in other ways, I’ve seen even more clearly how attention can be the most basic form of love. Continue reading “Attention is love”

Hello, thought storms

Confession: I put myself through the wringer a couple of times last month. I reacted to some stuff with a whole BUNCH of insecure thinking about them, to the point where I didn’t know which way was up any more.

Continue reading “Hello, thought storms”

The Fear Dance

As March rolls straight into May (I know April was in there somewhere, but I’m damned if I can recall WHERE in the blur), I’ve been thinking about fear.

(I suspect it’s the water we’re all living in.)

As luck would have it I recently found an old handout from Gary Smalley, an author and relationship counsellor, which describes something he’d see in relationships called ‘the Fear Dance’.

Each party would have unspoken expectations. When these were unmet, their fears would be triggered – which in turn triggered the other person. A chain reaction would ensue, and a dance of dissatisfaction and anger would launch unhindered.

Gary lists a host of different fears, and a host of behaviours and responses.

But they come down to 2 core relationship anxieties; fearing a loss of power/feeling controlled, and the fear of disconnection; Continue reading “The Fear Dance”

An uncertain kind of loss

I’ve been thinking about ambiguous loss and grief lately.

(Yes, FUN TIMES.)

My thoughts were sparked by two articles; the first, on how middle-age is impacting Gen X women (spoiler alert: badly. REALLY BADLY). The other, a letter writer wanted to feel like her single life is enough (spoiler alert: even the ‘agony aunt’ who responded struggles and fails to cultivate this feeling).

As someone who, Venn-diagram-speaking, is slap-bang where these two overlap, they made interesting reading.

And by interesting, I mean .. the other thing. Continue reading “An uncertain kind of loss”

For a friend who is struggling

This month, I’m going to share something very different.

One of the first pieces I ever had published was a poem, and yet I rarely read them – and the last one I wrote was five years ago. But a friend who lives overseas was struggling recently, and I wanted to keep in touch through loving voice messages.

I didn’t want to add to his mental load by chit-chatting about my day, though. So what could I say that would be short, helpful and meaningful? Continue reading “For a friend who is struggling”

Letting love in

It was my birthday last month. And, like many people, I usually feel a bit flat in the run-up to celebrating another revolution around the sun. There’s nothing like getting a whole year older to remind you of how short life can be!

As someone who lives alone with only a couple of friends and zero family members living nearby, plus everyone’s busy work or family schedules, finding a way to celebrate with others can feel tricky. Continue reading “Letting love in”

The Gift of Presence

I’m writing this a week after Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the US discount-frenzy that’s firmly planted itself into British culture. I’d like to say I was immune but, with Christmas fast approaching, I bought a couple of gifts for friends and loved ones. Hey, I’m human.

It’s hard to know what to give people, though. Most of us have too much stuff already. And, because it’s been hard for us to meet up for a while, I know that I’m in danger of exchanging physical objects with some friends in lieu of physical presence. Continue reading “The Gift of Presence”

From me to we: supermarkets, singing, Sufism and sobbing strangers

In a world which can feel more and more disconnected, it’s important to have a place of refuge for true connection.

For me, one of these places is an Awakin circle or retreat held by ServiceSpace.org, an “incubator of gift economy projects”. Continue reading “From me to we: supermarkets, singing, Sufism and sobbing strangers”