SNOWDROPS, SKYLARKS AND NOT LOSING HOPE
It is a long time since I have put any news or updates on my website or social media feeds. Being honest, life has been very challenging for me in recent times and I haven’t felt there has been any exciting or positive news to share. No musical adventures, mindfulness courses or other exciting projects to announce to the world. The truth of my life over the last few years is that I have been in the vice-grip of chronic illness – that has, quite literally, stopped me in my tracks. A condition called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – which does exactly what the name suggests and leaves sufferers dealing with the myriad symptoms and challenges associated with severe and constant exhaustion. Dealing with this condition has been the grim reality of my life for three years now – a full time job and a harsh yet skilled teacher. My harp sits across the room, silent most of the time, yet still there, waiting for me to return. My singing voice has become much quieter too – deeply affected by lack of physical energy. My capacity to do anything ‘out in the world’ has diminished dramatically and in frightening ways – as anyone who has had CFS (or known someone who has had it) will recognise all too well. Why would I want to share any of this with the world – this deep challenge and suffering? And why do I wish to share it now? Until this week I felt unable to do so – for so many complex reasons. But in the last few days Mother Nature (my salvation!) has given me such repeated experiences of simple, heart-opening beauty, that something in me has opened up to the possibility of being REAL in the way I communicate through these modern mediums of website and social media, rather than only putting out the ‘exciting’ and ‘beautiful’ and ‘successful’ persona that our modern world so often seems to demand! If I have learned anything in this experience of illness it is about the importance of seeking wholeness and exploring the perfection of imperfection. And so here I am – sharing some of the messiness and realness of my life with you rather than waiting for more ‘exciting’ news to share. Perhaps this IS exciting news- to be real, to be fully present to my life as it is, not as I would wish it to be, to have the opportunity to keep learning and growing and sharing even when the going gets tough. ‘As long as you are breathing there is more right with you than wrong with you, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel’ – these words of Jon-Kabat Zinn have been my mantra in the darkness of recent times. So, back to Mother Nature, who, in her miraculous, every changing, seasonal way, has gifted me snowdrops and skylarks this week. The snowdrops are in full bloom over the last few weeks in the part of the world I live in – their cheery little white heads bobbing bravely in cold February winds, heralding the imminent arrival of Spring and giving me the courage to keep going – to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not lose hope that things DO change and healing IS possible. This week too the skylarks burst forth in song, after many months of silence over the dark winter. They soar above me as I walk the beach close to where I live – stretching my tired heart open, to renewed hope, to new life, to new possibilities.
The energy I have these days goes into healing and recovery and I learn so much – about what it really means to be fully human, to be mindful, to embrace my own fragility and learn to really walk the path of self compassion. My mindfulness practice sustains me and I do my best to turn towards the light every day – to orient towards what is nourishing and good and believe that healing is possible. The words of Julian of Norwich are posted in every room of my home – to help me stay close to what matters and not fall into despair. Skylarks and snowdrops give me this same precious reminder.
‘All shall be well and all shall be well. All manner of things shall be well. For there is a force of love flowing through the universe That holds us fast and will not let us go.’ St. Julian of Norwich
The experience of chronic illness teaches me so much and I hope that sooner rather than later my energy will return enough that I can share some of these learnings with the world in mindful and musical ways! Until then, sending you all my love and good wishes🙏
Fionnuala, so sorry you are unwell.You may not remember me but I could not attend your talk at the Sanctuary due to illness and you kindly sent me one of your lovely CD’s .The snowdrops are beautiful.
I learned that seeing cannot be controlled,it is a grace of awareness that originates in the deepest part of your being.You see nature in a divine light, a light that at the same time you witness in yourself. By Wayne Simsic.
Thank you for sharing your pain so beautifully, that takes courage.
I have found the Tonglen Meditation practice helpful, it’s simple but powerful.The practice of Mindfulness has also sustained me, and self compassion meditation.I will keep you in my prayer Fionnuala. Stay in The Moment as best you can. All will be well. This too will Pass. Take care, Love and Best Wishes, Marie Kelly. XX
Sending love from Austria. Thanks for sharing you journey. You are so brave. Please send me your phone number via sms to 0043 676 7282 440 Barbara Swetina
Dear, Beautiful Fionnuala ,
Thank you so much for the courage of sharing this moving story with us. You still shine like a bright star. Please take care of yourself. You’ve been an inspiration to me in many ways — both musical and spiritual . Hope you get better soon.
My very best wishes, Maria
I have only recently discovered your beautiful voice and music. This brought me to your website where it saddened me to hear of your chronic illness. Wishing you many Snowdrops, Skylarks and much hope for your future.
I have just come across your website and music today. I know exactly how you were feeling when you wrote that entry. On one hand many of us hope you are improved, but on the other hand if you have not posted since February, I suspect things are the same for you. Having had years of CFS-like symptoms myself, I know it is not easy or simple to move away from it, and that it can often return with a vengeance, and it seems to be a merry-go-round we simply cannot get off. Do let us know how you are managing.
Mary Jane – thank you so much for taking the time to get in touch….I really appreciate it! Health challenges continue, but I am focusing on the practice of staying present with as much self compassion and kindness as I can muster! Wishing you ease and light at this lovely time of year. Fionnuala
Hope you are feeling better Fionnuala. I thought of you when I read this article.www. Learning Through ILLness – what M.E has Taught Me. By Linda Hall. Also You Tube, Linda Hall – Things that Nourish and Sustain Me. Her meditations are beautiful. Mindfulness is my Rock, I am so grateful to have it in my life. Wishing you well. Take care. Blessings, Marie Kelly xx
Praying for you with the arrival of spring today to feel better soon don’t forget “Angel are watching over you “ I have been listening to my favorite song “Prayer “ very often before knowing you were not feeling well .
It could be interesting when you feel better to come on “ Insight timer” app and do some live sessions to share your experiences and take us through a mindful meditation and sing for us .
I would love to see you there . Sending you love and healing energy