Category Archives: Positivity

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Being kind is a choice, and it says much about people
whether they choose to be cruel or to be kind. Choose to be kind.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind - the last krystallos

I was going to post a different blog today – I’ve decided to post only once a month due to writing and family commitments – but today’s subject is too important to miss, especially after the weekend’s events.

Friday brought us Valentine’s Day, an annual celebration of love, compounded by a recoupling in the evening’s episode of Love Island, the TV show offering young singles a chance to find love. Love was in the air, and both love and compassion should be in the air every day, not just Valentine’s. I mention the day and the show because the very next day Caroline Flack would take her own life. Caroline was very much weaved into the tenets of Love Island, being the former host and a romantic herself, and was described as someone who loved being in love.

Her death is complicated and none of us can know the reasoning behind her decision, and the discussion surrounding her loss is made more complex by an impending trial for domestic abuse. None of us are here to debate her wrongs or failings, we all have those, and not one of us is in a position to throw stones. But no one can fail to see the relevance of both tabloid and social media as a likely contributory factor in her loss.

happiness-and-melancholy-

© Lisa Shambrook

The weeks following her arrest offered an onslaught of media attention and endless stories in the tabloids. I heard a quote that over four hundred stories about her appeared within four weeks or so, not to mention the amount of tweets, opinions, and comment they gave life to. How could any one of us deal with kind of scrutiny and vilification? I certainly couldn’t.

I suffer from severe anxiety, depression, and a host of other issues, and not even a hundredth of what she was laid bare to would have left me okay. One single negative tweet can have me contemplating my place in this world, and I understand that, so I am careful what I say online. So, if someone like me who has attempted suicide, regularly self-harm, and live with constant anxiety can’t deal with that kind of attention, why do we think celebrities, personalities, and even royals are stronger? Celebrities have emotional and mental health conditions, they have lives as complicated as ours, they struggle, and they try to live the best they can. They have faults and flaws just like we do, but when they make a mistake they do it inside the glare of the spectator.

Mental Health Foundation - Stress - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine making your mistakes in the limelight and scrutiny of the public, and being tried and convicted by uninformed armchair judges.

It’s easy to sit anonymously behind a screen and damn everyone we disagree with. We’ve seen it with Brexit, Trump, Johnson, Meghan and Harry, even coronavirus, and much more, but it’s not healthy when debate is uninformed or judgemental. We’ve seen a big move to fact check information online, especially when politics is involved. How often do we check our facts before posting our opinion, or sharing that meme that’s doing the rounds? We should. We must.

And this leads to the bigger issues. Our media is very much controlled by a few select outlets: tabloids and big media personalities, and I’d currently consider government too. When our media is owned by huge corporations including the media mogul Rupert Murdoch we often only hear the things they want us to hear. Personalities, like Piers Morgan, Katie Hopkins etc, also tend to gain traction with loud and widespread controversial voices. These voices have a responsibility to be just and respectful, and not incite hate or bullying.

Both Light and Dark - J. K. Rowling - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Journalism does need to report what’s happening, but what happens when those reports become judgemental, mean-spirited, bullying, and downright persecution? Both bullying and sensationalising within the media has become endemic.

We are becoming a nation, a world, enslaved to bad news. We need more good news, we need more love, more kindness, and more good things all round. We need to be careful with what we say, not because we’re walking on ice around people not to offend, but because we are good-hearted genuine people who don’t want to hurt those around us.

Life is hard and we often have no idea what truly goes on in the lives of our friends let alone people outside of our circles. We’re all fighting battles no one can see.

Kind words are easy to speak - Mother Theresa - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

It’s important we are there for each other, and that spreads further than just our own back yard. If we interact globally, our circles widen and our influence grows.  We need to reassess our ethics and priorities. Our words can either harm or comfort, it’s up to us which we choose. We can help others reach their potential, help them to succeed, and support those who need it. We can work together, and kindness and compassion are paramount to achieving that.

Kindness is a base response, it’s automatic, it’s a default we should all have.

Gottman, a german researcher who worked with couples at The Gottman Institute, declared that: Contempt is the number one factor that tears couples apart, and Kindness, on the other hand, glues couples together.

Let’s take contempt, hate, dislike, animosity, disrespect, all those things that contribute to bullying, away and replace them with kindness, love, compassion, empathy, validity and everything that will cement a community together in this wild, difficult, uncertain thing called life and become a stronger more supportive society.

Kindness has a beautiful way of reaching down... unknown

© Lisa Shambrook

Kindness isn’t hard, it’s a natural setting that all children have until prejudices and differences become apparent. Let’s reclaim it in our social media environment and in our personal lives until it becomes our default.

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch.
It is anything that lifts another person.
(C. Neil Strait)

In a world where you can be anything, be kind.

Unexpected Kindness - Bob Kerrey

© Lisa Shambrook

Embracing Change Makes Life Better

After years of saying I don’t like change, I’m changing.
I’m learning that change is not only inevitable, but essential
and I need to embrace it.

Embracing Change Makes Life Better - The Last Krystallos

I struggle with change, but now I’m seeing it differently. I used to explain my lack of enthusiasm for something new as disliking change, but what I meant was a loathing of a change in routine, or an aversion to altering my view. I admit I’m not keen on things changing unless it’s something I initiate. That’s a selfish, but very human place to be. It’s not easy to alter your point of view, or adjust to something new, it’s hard to revise your opinion, but it is essential.

Many things in my life have changed, both good and bad, but changes are necessary. Growth comes from change, and only you can decide to grow. We don’t always have control over changes that happen to us, and sometimes we will need outside help to counter trauma, finance, situation, or mental, physical, and emotional health issues. In general, though, how you react to change will be your choice. Will you initiate it, love it, embrace it, or fight and challenge it?

My life has been one of quiet acceptance and of not rocking the boat, from a childhood of muted introversion and acquiescence, while inside I screamed for control of my own until I finally broke free about fifteen years ago.

true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world - Brene Brown - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I have changed in so many ways. My mental and emotional health has been forefront and my take on life has altered hugely. My personal ethics, beliefs, and thoughts on the world are so different to how I grew up, and I’ve grown up too. I’m a very different person with different beliefs and views on life, and I’m much happier with a less rigid and more altruistic life.

I’ve had to learn to adapt to change. Living on the spectrum, for me, means anything out of the ordinary or off routine is anxiety ridden and often scary, but getting older and a necessity to find my own ways to combat mental health issues has given me strength to make changes.

Acceptance has been a big part of knowing who I am, and who I strive to be has allowed me to open up to new things. I’ve spent over a year embracing myself and letting my hair go grey. When society advocates a certain beauty standard it’s difficult to break away from that with confidence, but I’ve loved the process of turning silver and letting natural changes happen.

She understood that the hardest times in life... – Sarah Addison Allen - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I now find it easier to break away from things that are toxic, things that don’t create positivity in my life, and from ties that used to bind me. Learning that I don’t need to be the product of my childhood and upbringing, allowed me to take control and taking control means embracing change.

I cannot now imagine being tied to things that limit us. I crave a world where people embrace equality, compassion, and love, where the climate and our planet takes precedence over capitalism, political corruption, and ease, where the whole world is one without boundaries.

When our general election loomed last month my take on voting was: ‘Think of the most vulnerable person you know and vote in their best interests.’ I couldn’t, in all that’s good, let this country move on as it was without using my vote to try and make someone else’s world better.

I want to change and embrace change, especially changes that help the world and its inhabitants. It’s sad to see climate change deniers, and odd to see people deride Greta Thunberg, but listen to Sir David Attenboroughthink about that – two people saying the same thing, but peoples’ prejudices limit them from taking action, because they don’t want to be advised by a young girl. I want to make changes because it’s for the greater good.

I want to embrace equality, in a world where it doesn’t matter what race or gender or sexuality you are, and where your beliefs or political allegiance don’t make you a bigot or a hypocrite. I want to live in a world which loves everyone no matter whether they are poor, homeless, or a migrant. A world where the wealthy want to pay higher taxes to support those who’ve never had their birth-right or opportunities, a society that wants to preserve good and fair over climbing the ladder of success without regard for who they step on. I want change, I welcome it.

We cannot become what we want to be by remaining who we are - Max Depree - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Change is vital for our species to grow. I was once told ‘God doesn’t change’ but I struggle with this. We all change, and I suppose if I believe in a higher being I want them to continue to grow, develop, and become better too. I want a hereafter where we move forward, and eternity, as a concept, is continual, which demonstrates something that moves on, develops, changes, and grows.

As Steven Hawking said: ‘Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.’

Change is growth, growth is learning, learning is education, and education leads to knowledge. Knowledge brings improvement, and improvement leads to both betterment of society and ourselves.

I used to love the prayer of serenity, but life is not serene, it’s not easy, and it’s not about sitting on the side-lines. There will always be things we cannot change, but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying. Angela Davies said: ‘I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.’

Change can be scary, but you know what’s scarier Allowing fear to stop you from growing, evolving, and progressing.

© Lisa Shambrook

Sometimes change will surprise you. Eleven years ago, we brought home a puppy. I was not a dog person and for the first few weeks I struggled with this little brown-eyed dog that gazed up at me with adoration. But I fell in love and Roxy became an integral much-loved part of our family. We lost her ten years later, but she’d enriched my life on so many levels, so much so, that two months later I saw a plea for a home for another dog and I fought for her. Those sad eyes gazed out at me from my Twitter feed and I knew she needed us. It’s now a year since that tweet and almost a year since she joined our family. Kira has a past infused with neglect and loneliness and small snippets of happiness, but now she’s home with a family who are her everything. It’s a small change, just one dog, but it means everything to us and to her.

Let change glide into your life, welcome it and embrace it,
and see who you can become.

If we don’t change, we don’t grow.
If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living – Gail Sheehy

If we don’t change, we don’t grow. If we don’t grow, we aren’t really living – Gail Sheehy

© Lisa Shambrook

 

Turning Silver and Going Grey – Embracing your Hair…

Going grey, turning silver – whether you’re aging gracefully or disgracefully –
at some point your hair colour is going to change. How will you embrace it?

Turning Silver and Going Grey - Embracing your Hair - The Last Krystallos

I’m forty-seven, and eleven months into growing out my coloured hair and turning silver… and I thought I’d share my process with you.

July to July Going Silver 2018-19 - The Last Krystallos

July to July – Going silver © Lisa Shambrook

There’s a huge amount of pressure on women these days to always look good, and as I’ve got older the media’s view on aging can be intimidating.

The average woman will begin to notice grey hairs from the age of thirty-five and by fifty most women will have at least 50% grey coverage. Men grey a few years earlier than women, but it seems more acceptable in men, just look at George Clooney (58)! I realised that most women my age on screen don’t have any discernible silver in their locks. Many popular presenters, Davina McCall (51) and Holly Willoughby (38) for example, are actively advertising hair dye products. And, tell me, have you seen many female news readers sporting grey hair recently? Fiona Bruce (55) still has glorious dark hair. I don’t have a problem with this, I’m all for being whoever we want to be, but for women who are going grey or who choose to transition from colour to grey it can be difficult. In the end you have to do what fits you, and if you prefer to dye then all power to you, but if you want to switch having some role models can help.

The positive, though, is that firstly, grey hair has become a fashion statement, with many young women choosing to dye their hair silver or grey and looking amazing, and secondly, I have noticed a few more women in the media in their forties and fifties with highlights mixed into what could be their natural grey growth. I saw Joely Richardson (54) on television this week, with beautiful golden-blonde and white highlights.

This is my going grey story – part one (there’ll be a part two, probably in another year or so when I’m fully silver)

Ages 19, 29, 39, and 47 - The Last Krystallos

Ages 19, 29, 39, and 47 © Lisa Shambrook

When I was young, I never thought about getting old. I was one of those teens who looked young and benefitted from family genes, and though my hair was always thin, I loved its colour. Certainly, the thought of going grey had never crossed my mind until my late thirties. As we age our bodies produce less melanin, the colour pigment, so instead of coloured hair, our locks grow in grey or white. Genetics play a big part in when this happens. My mother had dark hair all her life, and only a few grey hairs well into her sixties, but my dad went grey much earlier – guess whose hair I have? My dad’s! I’ve also found that my silver hair is stronger, less greasy (I used to wash it every day, now I can go three days at least before it needs washing), and much thicker (a true blessing for a girl like me with limp and thin hair!).

lisa 45, going grey first white stripe... The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

I often dyed my own dark brunette hair, and mahogany, plum, ruby, and copper were my go to colours, enhancing my natural red tones. Then, about eleven years ago, white roots began to show through, mainly at the front hairline, and my dye game stepped up. I moved to dark and warm browns and auburns, until I felt they were getting too dark for my skin. You’ll notice as you age that your skin tone changes too. A few years ago I decided to follow my natural lighter colour and moved to light brown and ash colours which worked with my skin and root growth much better. I dyed every eight weeks and felt I looked older whenever white roots showed.

An element of fear kept me holding onto brunette, but now, as I age, I want to be me – my authentic self. I got bored of dyeing and discovered Grombre an inspirational Instagram page which celebrates women turning silver, and I knew I wanted the freedom of embracing the evolving real me. It’s been a time of change, becoming peri-menopausal, my altering beliefs and ethics, and I wanted to be my natural self without apology!

age 45 - 47 from this to this - the process of going grey - The Last Krystallos

From brown to silver in a year © Lisa Shambrook

My local hair salon are award-winning colourist experts and when I asked how best to go grey, they advised ditching the colour, avoiding highlights (matching to grey growth can be very hit and miss), and just going for it. So I did. A few years ago I moved from long hair to a short bob and this definitely helped with the grey process. It seems my hair grows about 2cm a month, so this was my root growth progress and also what I asked my stylist to trim every two months. This meant my hair colour change was obvious and I love it! The bronze tips of my hair are now just fading colour from years and years of dye, and like autumn leaves they’ll soon be gone.

This doesn’t mean I’ll never colour again (as a dark-haired girl no colours but black, brown, and red ever took to my hair), and after my fading copper tips are gone I’m looking forward to playing with pink or purple or blue!

Going Grey 8 months bronze, copper, grey and white - The Last Krystallos

Ombre © Lisa Shambrook

The weirdest thing in this process for me is acknowledging that brunette is no longer my natural colour!

The shimmering shades of silver, white, and steel grey in my hair suit me and I’m fascinated by the process. I thought I’d go completely and suddenly white but the salt and pepper effect is lovely, steel grey at the back moving through shades of silver to white framing my face. My fear of looking old was quashed fast as I realised my ombre of silver and bronze didn’t negatively affect how I saw myself. I used to look in the mirror when my white roots shone through and believed I looked ten years older – but it’s a matter of attitude. I look the same but have a sparkle of silver gilt.

I can’t wait to see what it looks like once it’s all natural and like an emerging butterfly I’m ready to embrace my wings!

It’s been almost one year, and by this time next year I expect to be completely colour free.

I’m ready to let my silver spirit soar with freedom and abandon.

Are you thinking of transitioning from colour to grey, or have you gone grey naturally?
What were your ups and downs, and how do you love your new look?

The Journey to Becoming Who You Are…

Figuring out who you are is the whole point of the human experience
Anna Quinlan
Discovering who you are is a journey and one that I don’t think has a final destination.
I am a contradiction, someone who hates change and yet, embraces it too…

The Journey to Becoming Who You Are... - The Last Krystallos
I recently posted a selfie on Instagram captioning it: Sometimes, I’m happy with who I am. Becoming who I’m meant to be. A lovely friend responded that I don’t need to change and become anything else, that I am great as I am.

This set me thinking. Self-acceptance has always been something I struggled with – I’ve always felt out of place, odd, different, and just not for this world. For years I felt lost, cast-aside, and solitary, but as I’ve got older I’ve learned to love myself, to embrace who I am and to continually search for my own truth.

To be nobody but yourself - ee cummings - the last krystallos- lisa shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I don’t think this is a journey that has a final destination. We don’t stay the same, we don’t reach perfection, we don’t become someone and remain that person for the rest of our lives. We move on, we change, we learn, we grow, and we become who we’re meant to be at that moment in time.

I write a lot about being who you want to be, about self-acceptance and being yourself: Never Changing Who I Am, Who am I and Who are You, and Belonging, Being a Loner, and Finding your Tribe, are just a few posts.

We must never dilute who we are, because intrinsically, whatever it is that makes your heart sing is you… and that you is exactly who you’re meant to be.

I am so much more than what they see - Douglas Pagels quote - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In Beneath the Distant Star, Jasmine is fighting to become herself. Jasmine lost her older sister, Freya, in the first book in the Surviving Hope series, but now, at fifteen-years-old, she can barely remember her sister and her frustrations grow as her mother doesn’t seem to accept her for who she is. Jasmine feels she’s always battling a ghost and losing.

In this excerpt Meg, who used to be Freya’s best friend, is offering advice to Jasmine:

Meg took a deep breath and touched Jasmine’s shoulder. “I’m myself, and only myself, no one else, just like you’re you and not Freya.” Jasmine nodded. “But, but, Jasmine, you don’t need to fight it, you don’t need to prove you’re not Freya, you just need to be yourself. Your natural self, not the self that needs to show she’s different, not someone who fights a ghost. Just be you.”

Meg smoothed a twig out of Jasmine’s dark hair. “You don’t need to dye your hair black and red, or even chop it off to avoid being Freya. You don’t need to do the opposite of what your mum wants just to be different.”

Jasmine dug the toe of her boot into the earth and shovelled dusty dirt. Meg took Jasmine’s chin in her hand and brought her face up to meet hers. Thomas drew a nervous breath, people didn’t touch Jasmine, she very often over reacted. Jasmine met Meg’s eyes. “How?” she whispered. “How?”

Knowing and becoming who you are isn’t always easy. I used to think once I’d got out of my teens it’d be easy to discover myself… Not strictly so, like I said, finding out who you are is a journey and as your life changes, so do you.

Goddess, wild child, fragile mess...

S. C. Lourie quote found online

It’s a long standing thing for us – as human beings – to want to better ourselves, and society is always telling us that if we were this or that we’d be better, or if we bought whatever (they’re probably selling) we’d be happy, but life is a rollercoaster, sometimes we’re better, stronger, more confident, and sometimes we’re weaker, less confident, and we struggle. That’s completely normal and exactly as life should be. We rise and fall with our circumstances.

Even when you’re strong, weakness can prevail, those are the times that others need to step in and help you on your journey.

I dislike change. I struggle without a prescriptive routine, and when things change my life melts down. To illustrate that, my favourite body lotion was recently discontinued. I even tweeted to confirm, then I panicked. My favourite toothpaste vanished a year or two ago and I’d been using that brand since I was about twelve. It took me weeks to choose another, just staring at the choice on the supermarket toothpaste shelf wondering if they’d taste okay, feel okay, and just be right for me was hell. Now it’s happening again. I just bought the last seven bottles of body lotion that I could find from several shops in town. I’m not neuro-typical, but that’s okay, that’s my journey.

But when it comes to being who I am, change is appropriate and I embrace it.

Lisa Shambrook 2018

© Lisa Shambrook

I’ve been dyeing my hair since my thirties; when that silver strand appeared and wouldn’t go away, I dyed it. Now, fifteen years later, I’m fed up with colouring my hair. I’m forty-seven and all about embracing myself, so I decided it was time to stop and see what hid beneath the dirty brown. Change is scary. Change can point you out as different, buck the trend, make you stand out. I found a supportive Instagram page: Grombre and I went for it. I stopped dyeing.

I used to look in the mirror as my white roots appeared and I believed I looked ten years older. I actually gazed at my face and it looked greyer and physically older. Turns out you can fool yourself. Now, silver highlights are appearing like glittered stars in my hair and I love it. I look in the mirror as my grey grows and I’m no different to who I was when I coloured my hair. There is no age difference, I look the same!

I can’t wait to discover what lies beneath, quite literally, and after a lifetime of dark hair, I will be able to play with colours, maybe I’ll have blue tips, or lilac hair, or maybe I’ll go dusky pink – whatever I choose it’ll be me for a while. I’ll embrace who I am at that moment in my life.

Brene Brown said: Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.

Brene Brown Quote true belonging when we're authentic and imperfect - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Accept who you are – right now.
Light up the world by being You. Be the star.
Dance until the stars fall from the sky and fill your hair with sparkle and light – (anon)
Never stop walking, dancing, running through this journey we call life,
discovering who you are today, and who you can be tomorrow…

0000. Divider

Beneath the Distant Star by Lisa ShambrookJasmine knows her very existence reminds her mother of something her sister will never have—life. Craving love and acceptance, Jasmine struggles to become her own person, and her fragile relationship with her mother shatters.

Beneath the Distant Star is published by BHC Press and is a novel that will enthral you.

“Jasmine can easily be related to and she pulls at your heart strings throughout the entire story.” — LibraryThing Early Reviewers

Beneath the Distant Star is now available in eBook and paperback (choose your format) at:

Amazon UK, Amazon US, and your local Amazon. Barnes and Noble, Waterstones, Google Play, Kobo, iTunes, and other online outlets.

The Power of Letting Go and Finding Joy

Sometimes the hardest thing you will ever need to do is to let go…

The Power of Letting Go and Finding Joy - The Last Krystallos

I have lived a life of clutter, of clinging on, of holding onto things that are no longer important. I’ve been attached to physical items for much longer than they were fruitful, and I’ve spent time in my life living in the past. How long have we lived amongst things that have outlived their value, or people and relationships that have become toxic, or stayed connected to past events that no longer benefit us, or remained within groups and communities that no longer make us happy?

A few years ago it became very popular to embrace minimalism, to clear out your clutter, to live with fewer material possessions. Books were published helping us declutter, to purge the objects that no longer satisfied us, and remove the distractions that stopped us being happy.

Back in 2014 Marie Kondo released her book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever, and offered a solution. She told us to ask ourselves when looking at the things that surround us, “Does this object spark joy?”

Surely, this question is one we should ask ourselves in most aspects of life. There will always be things we have to do that don’t make us happy or spark joy, we have to work for a living, and we cannot remove all the negative or problems from our lives. But when there are things we can change we should create as much joy in our lives as we can. I don’t want to live my life missing out on happiness, fun, and joy.

Sometimes, letting go means releasing things that were once important – if they still are, you_ll find them again - Lisa Shambrook - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Oprah Winfrey explained, “I define joy as a sustained sense of well-being and internal peace – a connection to what matters.”

What matters to you?

I am moving forward after years of severe depression and moments of psychosis, and allowing myself to let go. I am slowly progressing through my home removing things that no longer hold emotional value and if they don’t spark joy, they will go. I am re-evaluating, working out what makes me happy and what doesn’t. There are things that are important to me, yet they have brought me great sadness rather than the joy they should. Sometimes, letting go means releasing things that were once important – if they still are, you’ll find them again. I’m going back to basics in many ways, in an attempt to remove the negativity in my life and replace it with positivity and joy.

I’m learning to let go.

Frozen The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Have you ever ditched something from your life which has made you infinitely happier?

How easy do you find letting go?

Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom – Living without Guilt

If there’s one thing I will take into the New Year – 2018 – it’s living positively,
and to do that convincingly I am doing away with internal judgement and guilt.

Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom - Living without Guilt - The Last Krystallos

Not only are we quick to judge one another, but we do it to ourselves all the time and it piles on the guilt. We have to appreciate that we are human beings and we have limitations. We can do all we can, but then we have to know that we can do no more and not sink into a pit of guilt. That metaphor is real, guilt is a pit. It’s a pit of sludge that weighs us down and sticks and stops us from climbing out.

I beat myself up about what I cannot do, and I persuade myself that others are judging me on my flaws and failings. None of us are perfect, none of us are meant to be.

We are all creatures that struggle and rise and fall, and need support, compassion, understanding, and love. Practise those same tenets on yourself too.

The-Prayer-of-Serenity-Niebuhr-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Prayer of Serenity was written for all of us, whether you believe God gives you power or you find your power from within, this plea is for all: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference – Reinhold Niebuhr.

Let us practise love and acceptance from within and without. I know that when I struggle I’m not the only one, others around me are struggling too. If we could remember that when we think of others, even when we feel hurt or betrayed, we will be better, kinder, gentler people. I wrote recently about Being Kind, and it truly is the way to be, the only way to be. If we can be kind to those around us we can be kind to ourselves.

I wish as human beings we could live as the twelfth Doctor recently prescribed: Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never, ever eat pears! Remember, hate is always foolish, and love is always wise. Laugh Hard, Run Fast, Be Kind. OK, pears are fine, sorry Ten, really they are, but the rest – yes.

Always – Be Kind – within and without.

 

Being Kind – World Kindness Day

November 13th will be World Kindness Day –
How will you be kind-hearted the whole year through?

World Kindness Day - Be Kind - 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I wrote about how Kindness is the recipe for keeping romantic relationships alive, The Most Valuable Way to a Happy and Successful Relationship, and it appears it is perhaps one of the best ways to be happy in all our relationships – whether they are life-long or just passing.

Kind words are easy to speak - Mother Theresa - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

In Charles Kingsley’s tale of the Water-babies, Mrs Do-As-You-Would-be-Done-By was a lovely lady who treated the babies as she wished to be treated, with unconditional love and treats. In contrast, Mrs Be-Done-By-As-You-Did was hard and sharp and treated the babies as they treated others, until they learned the lesson of treating others well. Which would you prefer to have around?

We have turned into a society of people who wish to do whatever we want without consequences and that includes how we treat those around us. We need to reassess our ethics. We can fight for and rise to catch our dreams, we can work to succeed, and we can push ourselves, but we don’t need to do it at the expense of others. We can fight to help others reach their potential, help them to succeed, and support those who need it. We can work together, and kindness and compassion are paramount to achieving that.

Unexpected-Kindness-Bob-Kerrey-the-last-krystallos-photo-bekah-shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Kindness is a base response, it’s automatic, it’s a default we should all have.

Kindness doesn’t need explaining. If you ask any child, especially small children, how you should treat others they will almost always say with kindness. Be kind. If they get it, why don’t we?

Kindness covers so many things – when you search the thesaurus you come up with a plethora of words, including:  affection – altruism – benevolence – courtesy – decency – compassion – gentleness – goodwill – goodness – grace – graciousness – hospitality – humanity – patience – sweetness – sympathy – tenderness – tolerance – understanding – unselfishness – charity – consideration – heart – helpfulness – kindliness – philanthropy – tact – thoughtfulness.

Let’s allow our hearts to pick one of these words, one of these qualities, and put it into action in our lives…

Kindness-is-more-than-C-Neil-Strait-the-last-krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word,
a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring,
all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
– Leo Buscaglia

What are you going to do today…and tomorrow?
Make Kindness your built-in default.

Light Up Your Life – Be a Star

How do we deal with darkness and light in our lives?

Light Up Your Life - Be a Star - The Last Krystallos

Terry Pratchett in Reaper Man wrote: ‘Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.’

…but I agree with Robert D. Hales that ‘Light dispels darkness. When light is present, darkness is vanquished and must depart. More importantly, darkness cannot conquer light unless the light is diminished or departs.’

Moreover, Teal Swan tells us: ‘There is no source of darkness in this universe. There is only the presence of light and the absence of light. Darkness does not exist; it only appears to exist. In truth, it is only the absence of light.’

Both Light and Dark - J. K. Rowling - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

However you choose to deal with the two elements, they will touch your life. The old Indian legend: There are two wolves who are always fighting. One is darkness and despair. The other is light and hope. The question is: which wolf wins? The one you feed. Offers the best insight into how we should deal with them.

I often feel, though, that darkness has been given a bad narrative, I like the dark. I love winter and its cosy early nights, I love being out beneath the stars, and sliding beneath a warm duvet to sleep in the pitch black is heavenly. I’m more comfortable with dark colours, earthy tones, and have a black cat. The dark has its place, without it our internal clocks would go crazy, and so would we!

We need the dark to appreciate the light. Like all opposites, without it life would be dull and unrewarding. Even if we use symbolic darkness, we still need sadness, despair, pain, and trials to know and love happiness, joy, good health, and fulfilment.

Stars can't shine without darkness - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And after all: Stars can’t shine without darkness…

We’ve all been through dark times and, generally, come out the other side better people. The light at the end of the proverbial tunnel is most welcome. Darkness gives us the opportunity to grasp light and embrace it. Eleanor Roosevelt said: ‘It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness…’ Light your candle and let your light shine.

I’ve written before on who we are, and we’re all a mixture of light and dark, but it would be good to allow our sparkle to shine. We can be positive, happy, and bright, and shine like stars.

Dance until the stars fall from the sky and fill your hair with sparkle and light - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

We are an intrinsic part of this universe, whether you feel it spiritually or physically. In Cosmos, Carl Sagan tells us: ‘The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.’ We are made with the same atoms, molecules, and particles as stars… Think about that for a moment. In fact, this quote from sci-fi writer Doris Lessing enchants me: ‘We are all creatures of the stars and their forces, they make us, we make them, we are part of a dance from which we by no means and not ever may consider ourselves separate.’  So, let’s shine like them.

How do you see yourself? Are you made from the same stuff as stars? Whether you believe in Deity, Humanism, Atheism, or you are just Agnostic, DNA and the science of genetics is undeniable. However we dress it up we are created, made, formed with interstellar dust!

And whenever I talk about dust I am pulled right back into Lyra’s world in Philip Pullman’s: His Dark Materials… I won’t give away what Dust is, but it is integral to consciousness. Go read the books…

Light is a fluid of sunbeams - At-Tunikhi - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, light and dark, particles, DNA, and dust, interstellar stardust, are part of us. When we feel dark, or lost in the shadows, we can light the way. Light lives within us, and we can emit it without even thinking. Imagine what we can do if we choose to? ‘To be a star you must follow your own light, follow your own path, and never fear the darkness for that is when the stars shine their brightest.’

Shinesparkle, glitter, effervesce, shimmer, and glow with the light that lives within you.

Light replaces darkness - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Find your path, join your constellation, follow your dreams…
Know that when darkness falls it will always be replaced by light.

‘Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.’
– Sarah Williams, Twilight Hours: A Legacy of Verse

Coping with Alzheimer’s: Sadness, Love, and Humour

I saw a lonesome forget-me-not gaze up at me the other day,
late in the year for these delicate blue flowers,
but they will always remind me of my mother.
They will forever be linked with the disease that stole her.

Coping with Alzheimer_s amid Tears of Sadness, Love, and Humour The Last Krystallos

The forget-me-not is the poster flower for Alzheimer’s, so when I noticed this little blossom peering up at me, it brought the condition back to my mind, and reminded me that I hadn’t yet read a book loaded up on my Kindle. Maybe it had been too soon when I bought it, Mum passed away at Christmas last year, but sitting in the Dr’s waiting room with Dad the other day I clicked on the book and opened it.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-Forget-me-not- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Instead of bringing tears, which it does too, it brought a smile to my face, many smiles. Finding a kindred spirit can do that. I relate strongly with the author S. R. Karfelt. Her candid humour, outright frankness, and sincerity shone through in her words. Our situations regarding Dementia are different, we’ve been through very different circumstances, but the familiarity of her anecdotes and narrative rang so true.

Alzheimer’s is the thief of time, stealing memories and lives with no compunction at all…and it is on the rise. More and more people are being diagnosed and figures show that 850,000 people lived with dementia in the UK in 2015 and it’s set to rise at a rate that will mean over 1 million in 2025 and 2 million in 2051. I’ve blogged about Prevention and Awareness before, and there are things we can do, changes to our lives, diets, and routines that can help, but this post isn’t about prevention or cure, it’s about living with the disease.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-time-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Please remember that living with Alzheimer’s affects a whole plethora of people for every one person diagnosed. Whole families and communities have to come together to care. When someone in your family has dementia, you can’t walk away, you can’t hide, you can’t bury it. The condition sneaks up and robs you of your loved one, but unlike other diseases that leave you to grieve after you lose your cherished family member, dementia leaves the shell of the person with you. I can’t describe the pain that that instils.

In her book, Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of DementiaS. R. Karfelt has been through all of this and eloquently puts her experiences on paper. For anyone facing dementia within their family, this is a book that will show you that you’re not alone. You’ll know you are part of a growing number of people dealing with this disease and staring it right in the face with defiance – and humour you have to laugh, and you’ll cry too. Lots.

So many stories in this book tickled me, made me smile, and made me belly laugh, because I’ve been there. You have to attack Alzheimer’s with humour, wit, and love, they give you the strength to carry on.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-Home-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

When Mum complained of the noisy street party going on in her back yard, outside her house, we had to humour her, because my parents lived in the middle of a field, not a sound anywhere. When she thought I was her mother, I held her close and rocked her. When she was convinced Dad was a doctor, I told her she’d better take her medication with no complaints. When she thought Dad was a stranger who had kidnapped her and was holding her hostage, I talked her through it, tried to allay her fear, and help her calm down.

Can you imagine believing you’re only fourteen, and then finding out you’re married and he’s an old man? Imagine looking in the mirror expecting to see your twenty-five-year-old-self gazing back and instead seeing a seventy-year-old with a very different face? Imagine nurses/carers visiting every day when you don’t think anything is wrong with you at all.

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-raindrops-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Imagine forgetting how to walk, or how to lift your food from the plate to your mouth with a fork. How would you feel if you couldn’t remember the beginning of the movie you started watching an hour ago? How would you feel when your grandchildren walk in and smile at you, but are complete strangers because you believe you’re twenty, and there are still eight years before you give birth to their mother yet?

Think about being in hospital or a home and not having a clue how you got there, or why, or for how long, or who took you there, or where you are, or why you’re there, or how long you’ll be there, and there’s nothing wrong with you, where are you, how did you get there, there’s nothing wrong, who took you there, when can you go home, as there’s nothing wrong… Where am I?

This is life with Alzheimer’s. It hurts – not only the patient, but the family, and carers, and friends… Alzheimer’s hurts everyone it comes into contact with.

So, if you’re dealing with, living with, coping with Alzheimer’s please know that you’re not alone. Please laugh as much as you cry. I’ve told my children that if I ever get this disease they are to treat me like normal, but play to it, allow me to stay in the time that I believe I am in, humour me, give me adventures, if I don’t know where I am – make it up!

Coping-with-Alzheimer's-leaf- The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

People will tell you how to cope with this condition when you’re caring for a loved one who doesn’t know who you are, but as long as you are compassionate and loving, you’re doing the right thing. Take time out. Laugh, I cannot say this enough, not at the person sometimes not even with the person, they won’t understand and you don’t want to hurt or alienate them even further, but you need to deal with the mess it makes of your life too, and once you’re out of the immediate situation talk through the absurdity Alzheimer’s proffers you and laugh at it. Irreverence can see you through it all.

Tears will fall, that’s a guarantee, but don’t ever think you’re alone.

The Alzheimer’s Society is an amazing resource who will help you through this minefield, as will those who’ve been there already. Stay strong.

Nobody-Told-Me-S-R-Karfelt-Dementia

You can buy
Nobody Told Me: Love in the Time of Dementia
by S. R. Karfelt on Amazon UK Kindle Hardbackand Paperback.
Amazon US Kindle, Hardback,
and Paperback, and from your local Amazon and other online bookstores.
Please visit her website for further information and links.

Where does the Beach take you?

It’s turning into beach weather here in the UK…
though, in my opinion, all year is beach weather for me.
I love wandering a lonely, cold, winter beach as much as
paddling through the surf on a warm, summer evening.
But what entices you to the ocean, what floats your boat?

Where does the Beach take you... - The Last Krystallos

Is it the heat, the sun, and the chance to sunbathe, or family time and BBQs, building sandcastles, and jumping waves, or do you prefer to explore, climb rocks, and appreciate the beauty?

Do you enjoy the sounds of the ocean rolling across pebble beaches? I grew up in Brighton, and the sound of the sea turning pebbles brings back all kinds of memories.
I adore walking barefoot over sand, and letting the surf lap across my feet, so the gorgeous West Wales beaches, where I live now, fit me perfectly…

Pebbles-vs-Sand-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you like the flora that thrives in the salty air, and the seaweed decorating the beaches? I have a weird penchant for wearing seaweed hairpieces…

Flora-and-Seaweed-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you collect shells, do you search out conch, mussels, and pretty shells, and do you put them to your ear to hear the sea? Do you listen to the shrieking gulls with pleasure or irritation?

Wildlife-and-Shells-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

And speaking of irritation, do you feel compelled to share your chips with the local birds? Fish n’ chips on the beach can’t be beaten! Do you sit on the beach with can of coke and newspaper wrapped chips and watch the sunset? Do you embrace your loved one as the sun disappears below the horizon in a fiery ball and the stars begin to sparkle?

Sunsets-and-Food-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love your feet in the ocean, do you paddle or dive right in? On the hottest days, dunking beneath the waves can be refreshing and invigorating.
Or do you prefer to sunbathe, lying on the beach worshipping the sun, or do you take a book and lose yourself in stories?

Feet-in-the-Sea-and-Relax-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are you one of the lucky ones who can surf the waves – either on a board, or in a boat? Can you relax on board and let the ocean rise and fall beneath you?

Boats-and-Ocean-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Do you love to explore, to climb the rocks, dive from cliffs, build dens, and get creative? Do you take photoshoots of mermaids, dystopia, and conquer pirates?

Explore-and-Dystopia-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Are sandcastles your thing? Are you an architect of the golden grains? Do you build turrets, and moats, and make lolly stick flag poles? Do you sculpt the sand to your every whim, designing and creating with imagination and the salty breeze? Can you build towers of pebbles, balancing in an ever more intricate game of Jenga?

Fun-and-Craft-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

The Palace Pier, now the Brighton Pier – though I can’t ever call it that – was a haunt for my childhood self, walking along the wooden timbers watching the green sea swell beneath me, feeling the ocean in my hair.
Do you search for lonely bays, lost coves, quiet havens, and romantic harbours? Do you walk from one end of the beach to the other, kicking through the rippling waves?

Bays-and-Piers-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Or are you like me, as long as my feet are in the water, I let the siren call of the ocean beguile me, and I lose myself in the beauty of the sea?

Beauty-and-Waves-The-Last-Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

What is it for you? What draws you to the beach, to the salty sea?

What entices you to the ocean?