Memories of a beautiful woman.

She was our Fairytale princess

Miles of ivory silk taffeta trimmed with lace

10,000 pearls and mother of pearl sequins

Giving a touch of grace.

Amidst the majesty of a royal wedding,

 

A beautiful woman

With a compassionate heart

Touching untouchables was her special art

At a time when HIV heartbreak

Brought devastating deaths in its wake.

 

The Indian summer of her life

Holidaying in Greece a rose still in bloom

Later in Paris a life taken too soon

In the Alma tunnel broken dreams

Smashed senselessly into smithereens.

 

We still have our memories and we still shed our tears

For your loss is immeasurable even after all these years

We have watched your sons grow into fine young men

They have carried your love forward time and again.

Rest in Peace and God bless,

You were a beautiful woman, our fairy tale princess.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

On 31st August it will be twenty years since Princess Diana passed away, my mum passed away 11 years later on the same day, we both loved Princess Diana.

One of my first blog posts was about her. This is the link:

Portrait of a Princess- Our Diana- The People’s Princess.

The image was in the public domain and able to be reproduced it came from:

058792: Visit by Diana Princess of Wales 1992
Diana Princess of Wales visiting Interconnection Systems (Plessey) in South Shields 1992. South Shields/Visits/Princess Diana Collection. Newcastle Libraries.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love you to Timbuktu and back…

My mind has gone to Timbuktu

I’d like to meet it there

It may be buried amongst some books

In a scholarly “libraire”.

 

I used to know the names of towns

And fun places by the sea

But now I can’t remember where

Or what I have eaten for my tea.

 

I think it is still a novelty

To see you sitting here with me

Your face is strangely familiar

Your love and kindness plain to see.

 

You take my hand with tenderness and press it firm against your face

Somewhere my memory stirs anew and I remember your embrace.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

According to the WHO globally there are about 47 million people who have dementia, with about 9.9 million new cases each year.

This is going to be my contribution to open link night for d’Verse. With love.

Beyond the shadows.

Maternal misgivings

Miscarriage numbs

Shades of silence separate us

Sorrow prevails

Suspended in shadows

 

Marriage meltdown

In grief defeated.

Barren and bewildered

Love lies

Dormant in the dust.

 

Test-tube babies

Twin harbingers of joy

Anchored in re-kindled love

Sunshine streams through

The clouds

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson

This is for d’Verse where we were asked to use the word “shade”.

 

 

Give Thanks

We are often blinded to what is of real value in our lives. We are often blind-sided by material wealth and economic worth and seek to measure our worth according to our apparent successes and failures at acquiring wealth and establishing some form of economic status based on it. These high expectations can indeed plummet us into great chasms of despair when our net worth based on these rigid criteria is seemingly low or even non-existent.

At 50 I find that I appear to be worth less in wages and respect than I was when I was 25. This has been a hard lesson to learn. However I can live off less, and I realise that so much of how I have measured myself is based on unrealistic monetised criteria.

I hope we somehow teach our children to recognise and measure their value and worth in other ways.

I hope they learn to measure their wealth in the size of their hearts and the depth of their compassion.

I hope they learn to measure their worth in their ability to give thanks, in their tolerance and their preparedness to give support and guidance to others in need.

I hope that they learn that time is of value and is often underestimated.

When you put aside the desire to be the most successful, or to have the most money it gives you the opportunity to look more closely at what you achieved in life and what is of value in and around you.

I am thankful to have had the opportunity to be a mum, and for me this was not a done deal.

I am thankful that I have been able to work most of my life in a job that has been profoundly interesting, engaging and in a field that I have been extremely passionate about.

I have been fortunate and am thankful that my work has been fulfilling and challenging and that I have often felt that I am making a worthwhile and valid contribution to society.

I am thankful for my family, all of them, warts and all, a husband who has at times driven me to distraction but always been there to hold my hand and walk beside me when the road has been tough. I am thankful for my children who have made me what I am, everything I have done has been to be able to give them something of value and worth. I am thankful for my sister and my parents for all that they gave to me and all that I learned from them.

I am thankful that when I have made mistakes I have had opportunities to recover and learn and try again.

I am thankful for the friendship and love I have received over the years from people whom I have loved and cherished and also sometimes from complete strangers.

I am thankful for the world around me, the beautiful buildings with their amazing stories, the sea and the landscape, the weather and all that is nature, from the humble daisy to a seascape at sunset.

When we take time to think about what makes us glad, we are able to remember that value and worth are not necessarily linked to money.

Namaste.

©Alison Jean Hankinson

Being able to give… the greatest blessing.

I can smile and skip and scurry in hurry along the winding road

I can speak, chide and compliment and listen to lighten your load

I have food work and sustenance and a humble comfortable abode.

 

I am blessed with unfaltering hope and love and wings to fly

And distant dreams to share and amazing opportunities to try

And firm friendships love and family that death will always defy.

 

My family are a blessing and they give me hope each and every day

When I am lost they give me sense of purpose and help me find my way

They are my anchor in stormy weather when I would rather run away.

 

May you find your inner strength in the gifts of love you receive

May you give back compassionately to those who are in need

And remember that the most bountiful blessing is in the deed.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

This was created in response to Paul Scribbles poetics challenge for d’Verse on the theme of blessings.

 

5 things I learned from practising Mindfulness

Be present
Practise Meditation
Accept pain and suffering

I guess it probably does seem like the in thing. I started my journey in 2011, when a wonderful duo Elke Radewald and Dr Rutger de Ridder offered me the opportunity to participate in a pilot programme of MBSR at Whangarei Base Hospital. They were lovely people and it was a fabulous and at times slightly challenging opportunity.

What does MBSR stand for? It means Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction and the practice was pioneered and promoted by Jon Kabat Zinn. In medical or clinical realms, the stress reduction is largely linked to dealing with and managing pain. For me, it was a golden opportunity that I will always be eternally grateful for being fortunate to participate in as it did indeed help me to accept and live with chronic pain.

There were about a dozen of us in the pilot and we all had different health problems that involved debilitating chronic pain that was interfering with normal life, at the time I was actually using morphine daily as well as high dose steroids to deal with an unusual presentation of inflammatory arthritis. The actual process involved active meditation and practising meditation on a regular basis and this proved to be very difficult for some of the clients to accept, they had significant pain stories and had often experienced discrimination and been challenged by health professionals about the “reality” of their conditions and they therefore were more keen to express their pain and frustration rather than practice mindfulness meditation. About 8 of us made it through to the end. By the end I was able to ditch the morphine. So for me the act of meditation and mindfulness successfully enabled me to accept and live with the pain I was experiencing.

How did it do that? Firstly I am not a clinician, so my answers here stem from my personal understanding and experiences and not scientific evidence based material. I think that the practice of meditation alters your biophysical responses. In a sense, it resets a balance and creates some form of internal homoeostasis. I think it might be the relaxation and controlled breathing that lowers blood pressure, heart rate and has a marked effect on chemicals released by the brain and their consequent uptake and for whatever reason this enables a resetting of the body’s pain sensory mechanisms. I had a flare of inflammatory arthritis that affected a significant number of joints and the simultaneous pain from this overwhelmed my pain sensory system, the pain was so great. Within the mindfulness training, it was made clear that the goal was to accept and embrace the pain, not an easy thing to learn how to do when all you want is for it to go away. However, it can be done.

By meditating and controlled breathing and accepting the pain I was able to experience one single pain-free breath and recognise it for what it was. One pain-free breath can be increased to two and so on. When one accepts that there are moments that are painful and moments that are pain-free one is able to let them go. Somehow by letting them go you reset the clock.

I still go back to active meditation when I experience periods of pain and still benefit from the training I received.

Did it work for everyone? In short no. People who live with chronic extreme pain are rarely understood in a clinical setting. Clinicians talk about numbers for pain and anyone who has experienced chronic pain would realise that a scale of 1 to 10 does not hold enough dimensions to accurately appropriately describe pain. People experiencing long-term pain, sometimes appear anxious, grumpy, depressed because chronic long term pain is debilitating and frustrating and destructive and yet clinicians often mistake these attitudes and moods as the cause or contributor to the pain rather than the effect. Most people with long term pain want to be able to tell their story, have someone listen and understand their pain and ultimately make it go away. So asking them to mindfully chew a raisin and accept and embrace their pain isn’t usually what they want to do or hear. Plus they want it to work NOW, this moment and the truth is it takes practice. So some people are unable to participate and give it a chance to work and this is no different than with some drugs and medications, which in truth don’t work for everyone either.

Life is based on suffering. I had a great enthusiasm for Buddhism in my younger years, but couldn’t deal with the natural position being set at suffering. I didn’t want to think that life was about suffering. I thought life should be about something more positive and optimistic than that. However, through being sick and at times extremely unwell I learned that suffering often is the base point on the scale and that what enables us to survive the suffering is to find the beauty and joy and pleasure in the single moment that is. This one moment might be the only moment, or the final moment or the most important moment and therefore we need to savour it and recognise it and value it for what it is. I learned to look for these moments and to cherish them and find them in as many places as I could. I think this is active mindfulness, and I think I learned to recognise it from the meditation and practice and the words of Jon Kabat Zinn.

Be present in the moment. I think part of me already recognised this. I remember when the girls were small there were times when they were ill and I was up in the night loving them back to life and I always cherished the moment realising that there would be a day when they were far away and I wouldn’t be able to care for them when they were sick and in need. However, through the practice and teachings of mindfulness, I realised that being present in the moment needed to be the default setting, not something that only happened on occasions. I have practised this and continue to practise this daily. It is about being cognisant of the very moment that you are in and seeing the colours and experiencing it completely without interference from brain buzz, brain drift, worry, white noise of the mind. It is about an ability to focus and concentrate on the exact moment as it is now. It requires conscious practice and conscious awareness.

In 2012 we were involved in a car accident that could have been significantly worse than it was. We were travelling down a country road and a van overtook us at 100km whilst at the same time a car pulled out of a side road on the opposite side of the road, it was a recipe for carnage and I could see it was going to happen. I had an awareness of the vehicle and the children in the car but knew that I had to remain calm and focus on the next few critical seconds and knew that regardless of what appeared to be happening around me I had to slow the car and stay on the road it was our only chance of survival.

The Van hit us full on and carried on going right past the front windscreen and over the fence and into the field where it rolled and ended up on its roof. I managed to stay on the road and slow to a halt, and we remained upright. We were alive and shaken but not hurt, the Van driver was also alive and well but his van was a write-off. I totally believe that it was the ability to completely focus on the moment and remain present that enabled us to stay upright and on the road and ultimately saved our lives.

Namaste. Love to you on your journey.

 

©Alison Jean Hankinson.

 

Insomnia

Can’t sleep, can’t stop thinking

Can’t stop worrying about the drinking

The bills, the wolf howling at the door

The need to always give that little bit more

Buster’s new shoes, Molly’s lose tooth

Worn out carpets on our worn out floors

Can’t sleep woes, Can’t sleep blues

If you know me well enough avoid me in the morning

As I’ll have the can’t sleep short fuse.

Insomnia.

 

Alison Jean Hankinson

Written today for d’Verse... we had to save a life on an issue…I chose can’t sleep which I am sure affects many people a lot of the time.