In my post The Pathway to Healing is not Simple, I promised that next time I go out for a walk I’ll share some beautiful hidden treasures in Swindon. Today is the day, I got ready for school run, dropped the kids off and ventured out wherever my heart compelled me to go. I anticipated finding some commonly-missed pockets of flowers or old signpost, what I experienced was much more than I bargained for.
I managed to find a small pathway that I had not explored before – this is very surprising because I have been walking around the area exploring new paths for the past three years. However, there was no doubting the fact this path was new to me. It was narrow with a brick wall to my left and a line of trees to my right. There were some brambles in the mix too. The path was a dirt one and climbed uphill in a S-shape. I know this may come across as a bit odd, but walking in a straight line does not actually feel natural. As I climbed this hill following the pattern of the path it felt so relaxing and calming to be “going with the flow” so to speak. It made me feel like the river following the windy course in a bank of grass and trees. It was like joining in with the dance of life, going here and there discovering, exploding, growing and learning along the way. When I reached the crest of the hill I turned around to see a pretty enlightening view below. I could see the roof of the big supermarket that now looked small, and a few tall buildings that reminded me of a picture I took at Monument Valley. I had to smile to myself at the achievement of finding my very own Monument Valley.
As I continued walking, listening to “From Now On” (The Greatest Showman Soundtrack) which is a song that resonates with me deeply these days (that’s a whole other blog post) my heart was stirring, urging me on to find something. The funny thing was, as I marched forward crossing roads now and descending down a walkway by the main road, I had NO idea what it was I was trying to find.
Suddenly the song ended, which felt like perfect timing because I stopped walking. I realised that I had quite literally come to a cross-roads. Each path lead to a completely different scene. Do I choose the dark underpass? Turn left into a housing estate? March forwards to follow the main road? Or do I turn around and go back from where I came from?
A massive part of my life has ended. I was part of a company, a team, a family. And I walked away from it. Despite feeling that it was the right move I realise I am at a cross-roads. The burning question is “what now?” I have started a creative writing course which is designed to help writers – like me – to start freelancing and making money with their words. I started this blog, with no idea which direction it might take. I hold the words; “From now on, these eyes will not be blinded by the lights,” “like an anthem in my heart” I realise that even though this is my life, this life is not all about me.
The praise and fame and thrills I experienced working in the Networking Industry, feeling like a winner…well, it was merely a distraction. Just like Hugh Jackman says, “then I see you standing here and I remember who it was all for,” The number one reason mother’s try Network Marketing is “for my kids” and yet, ironically, I was spending far less time with my children than before.
Don’t get me wrong, I grew in confidence and collected more useful skills than a Swiss Army knife, but I had become consumed by my work. Getting that work life balance is hard isn’t it? Whatever industry you work in.
So whatever I decide to do next, it needs to remain in balance with the most important needs I need to fulfil. My family are everything to me. Everything.
I am fundamentally terrified of many things, but death is not one of them. I fear being left behind. I have witnessed my husband and children dying in various ways more times than I could possibly count. I have been told it is an instinctual process to help you to avoid these things from happening. You know, hold the baby close when walking near the stairs or they might fall. Like the movie “Inside Out” Fear keeps you safe.
But if you let it, fear keeps you trapped. Again, that is now digressing to another blog post on Anxiety.
Back to my walk. I chose to continue forward and follow the main road. I was not looking for anything at this point, the direction I was heading in looped round to the place where I had parked my car, so I just listened to the music and walked along mindlessly. Until, something made me stop for a moment and look to my left. And then I gasped.
Daffodils. Loads and loads and loads of Daffodils. They were only just tentatively opening up, but the sight made my heart swell. I also noticed a narrow muddy path leading to some mighty trees up ahead. This is it. This is the little patch of beauty I had been looking for.
I followed the muddy path in my black boots, took a closer look at the daffodils and then continued into the small grove of trees.
It was the perfect set for a movie. The tree trunks were naturally etched like roman columns and the branches were twisted and intwined with other trees. I couldn’t work out if these were Ents from Lord of the Rings, or Pocahontas’ Grandma, but either way, it felt like these trees could talk. They didn’t – but I feel like if they did, they would have some stories to tell!
The floor was full of leaves, seedlings and loose soil. I sheepishly took a look around to see if anyone might come by. Nope, I was all alone to enjoy this sanctuary. Guess what I did?
Yep. I carefully removed my shoes and stood on the ground barefoot, grounding myself. This is the first time I’ve done it in a semi-public place. And the ground was rough and grainy underfoot. But the soothing feeling flowed from my feet all the way up my legs and to my heart. I took a deep breath and sighed with a smile. Just as the song said “Home again.”
I couldn’t help but think about my dad. His passion was being in the garden and working with plants. He learned all the Latin names for trees, shrubs, flowers and all manner of foliage. He would have loved this. I remember Dad telling me that all people who work in the garden, landscape gardeners, horticulturists etc are very spiritual people. Because there is no doubting that plants and even the grass have a spirit, they speak to you in a way and they make you feel good.
In all the time my dad lived close by, we never went for a walk together. Once again, tears which are never far away brimmed my eyes and threatened to smudge my make up. I sniffed and put my shoes back on. I said “I’m sorry we can’t go for walks together Dad” and walked back towards the main road.
Suddenly something white caught my eye on the way out. I bent down and peered closer. It was the fluffiest, whitest feather I had ever seen, perfectly positioned for a portrait. I took a photo.
Then I started to notice more of them. They lined the path back to the main road. I distinctly remember having my eyes on the ground on my way in and didn’t notice them before. Where did they come from?
Well, I did have my headphones in and couldn’t hear outside noises so it’s possible a beautiful white bird was mauled by a cat behind me as I walked into the trees, but I’m thinking unlikely.
To me, it felt like a soft whisper from a not-so-distant place, telling me “It’s alright” and perhaps, maybe I was not alone in my walk today.
Perhaps, just maybe, the message is that our loved ones continue to walk with us from the other side. Well, I hope so.
Love you Dad.