This week I’d like to start off with another quote. As with many phrases I’ve come to value, it was sent to me by a good friend when I was going through one of my darker periods. Even today it still makes me smile:
“A diamond is a chunk of coal that is made good under pressure”
It’s particularly relevant to me this week because I’m discovering all manner of riches around me at the moment. In most cases, treasures that have been hidden away from view and that are only now coming to the surface. I’ve been doing a little DIY at home you see. It’s all part of my process to reclaim my space. Making my home my own home, arranging my space and my stuff the way I like to have everything arranged. It’s both cathartic and enlightening – because I’m discovering more and more that little needed to be changed or replaced in order to bring my home to life. In actual fact, it has been many of the ‘old’ things that are now bringing me immense pleasure that I could not have imagined just a short while ago.
Allow me to explain by giving you a specific example. Outside my kitchen, I have a long wooden table. Over the years it has witnessed countless gatherings with friends and family – parties, barbeques, merriment, tears, heavy discussions and light-hearted banter. It has also seen my son and his friends develop from children to young adults – the Lego and Monopoly having been usurped by late night conversations and music with food and wine. Added to that it has been there throughout the twists and turns of my warped marriage – in actual fact, the table was one of the first things that we made together when we first moved to France. Crafted from a solid iron base, laid with long planks of wood we picked out from a local supplier, I still remember sanding each one, and then lovingly coating them with varnish before finally attaching them to the base.
For a number of months, now, it’s been niggling at me. It’s one of those pieces of furniture that holds a number of memories – and one, therefore, that was most certainly on my ‘should it stay or should it go’ list! It was made at least eight ago, and time and the elements had turned it a rather unattractive grey-brown colour. Peeling at the edges, with distinct patches of extreme water and weather damage, it really didn’t look very good at all. But, as I kept reminding myself, I had nothing else. So it would have to do. Until, that is, I decided to do something about it.
So, Saturday morning found me dressed in old clothes, outside in the garden with sanding machine in hand. It was decision time. Either this table was going to shape up, or it was going to end up on the fire.
And that, quite often, is similar to the kind of things I would say to myself during the early weeks and months after I discovered the truth about my situation. Sad, lonely, in shock, and desperately trying to make sense of what was happening, I would reach a point where I knew I had to give myself a shake. It was either that, or end up sinking further in to the pit of despair, where recovery and salvation would be even harder to achieve. I’m not saying it was easy – in actual fact, it was often so difficult that I was highly tempted to stay wallowing in self-pity. And sometimes I allowed myself to do just that – but just for as long as was necessary for me to honestly acknowledge the emotions so that then I could move forward; and by moving forward each time after first accepting the ‘bad stuff’ I found I felt more cleansed and determined to keep going.
Accepting The Imperfections
Back to my table. As I stood there, sanding away at the grime and fatigue that had become part of the furniture, I began to remember how much I actually enjoy working with wood. As the machine whirred around, doing its’ work, I began to look more lovingly at the stains, the bumps, and the cracks that bore testament to a life of service. I began to relax more in to the process, finding it cathartic both on a physical and spiritual level. Here I was, being covered in sawdust, but with the biggest smile on my face. Swooshing the machine backwards and forwards, I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the kitchen window – instantly reminding myself of my own lumps and bumps that I have gradually learned to love. Looking back to the table I noticed that underneath the grimy surface, the wood underneath was in perfect condition. Better, in actual fact, than I had remembered it to be…. Aaahhh…. I felt the obvious parallel with my own life. And smiled some more.
Because I’ve found that despite everything that has happened, the real true person that I am underneath, is brighter stronger and more loving than I can ever remember being before. Maybe it’s the same as the diamond process – perhaps the pressure and stress made me that way? Or… as I prefer to think… perhaps I was always like that, but could never really accept it for myself.
Eleanor Roosevelt is credited with saying “It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – how wonderful is that as a philosophy for life? I remember how often in the early days, I would cry myself to sleep, full of sadness and anger about what had happened to me. “Haven’t I already endured enough?” I’d wail in silent agony, clutching a pillow for comfort until the sobs subsided and I fell in to exhausted sleep. It’s only now, after taking countless small steps until those times are now just a distant memory, that I can appreciate the true value of those words. How might it have been had I been able to foster gratitude and forgiveness from the start? Well, to be honest, I really don’t know – and frankly, it doesn’t matter. What I do know is that the healing path I chose to take worked for me; I know that the strength of dark emotions helped me to eventually propel me towards the lighter side of life; I know that by intentionally searching for the gift in every situation, I have been able to work through the pain and fears to reconnect with who I really am. And through this process, I’ve discovered that underneath it all I am indeed a diamond. I’ve also discovered the gobsmacking truth that I always have been – as, I believe, are all of us here.
As for my table? Well, after careful sanding and re-fixing to the iron stand, I gave it three good coats of teak oil – and now it gleams more brightly than ever before. The colours and nuances in the wood are simply glorious, and it stands with pride, surrounded by four equally old but perfectly suited wooden chairs, that just seem to set it off beautifully. Perhaps it’s just my imagination, but sometimes I’m sure I can see it smiling with contentment and joy…?
To finish this post, I would like to share an inspirational poem that I have often referred to – and have regularly shared with friends and clients alike. It’s from a great site that has numerous poems like this – here’s the link if you’re interested http://www.villagehero.com/inspirational-poems.htm The author of this particular one is unknown, but to me it sings of the beauty and ability that lies within each and every one of us. Today I’d like to share it here with you, because I believe with all my heart that you are already diamonds, shining through the darkness.
I Believe You Can Accomplish Anything You Choose
If you could see through my eyes,
I wonder what you’d be feeling right now,
Because I can see you standing
As you really are –
Powerful, sensitive, determined, and gracious.
I can see you achieving everything you choose to achieve.
I can see you being exactly who and what you want to be.
Look through my eyes for an instant,
And you’ll see yourself
Conquering all limitations.
Look through my eyes,
And see who you really are
And what you are capable of.
You can accomplish anything –
I know you can.
With love and blessings – have a good week Mel xxx