“Just think, every sunset is perfect. You don’t sit there, and think that one corner of the sunset could be more red, that one could be more yellow. Each and every part of that sunset is perfect.”
So said a seasoned counsellor who came to speak to my counselling training group earlier in the week.
His words made perfect sense.
Think about what you are, who you are, where you are now. Think about how far you have come; stop beating yourself up and with a flamin’ big stick.
The lead image is sunshine in Dad’s back garden. Beautiful Birmingham blue from left to right, with not a single solitary cloud to be found. Today the weather is amazing, with heat that is basically tropical but with enough pollen to sink a small ship. The latter, is why I have been loitering indoors all day. I have a tendency to sneeze on loop, have streaming eyes and bogey up; it is not a pleasant experience.
To me, that is pretty damned perfect. There is darkness and there is light. There is a whole spectrum within those pixels.
Over the last nine months, I have been undertaking the first year of a Level Four diploma in therapeutic counselling. There is another year to go, and up to this point, things have been wonderfully interesting. Things are not done yet. There is still a lot to play for.
The last year, has been one hell of a journey. The last year, is in itself a portion of a journey that started in the autumn of 2012.
Journey. That word, is key; in journeying, I have experienced highs, lows, tears, tantrums and episodes where I have thrown my hands in the air whilst wondering what the frick was going on. There has been change in the last year. I can say and with some confidence, that I am not the same person that I was and five years ago….five years ago.
Five years ago this month, I had just finished a level two course. It would be July 2015 before I finished level three,the A-level equivalent that built on the first instalment and reminded me of how hard A-levels had been the first time around. Then came Level Three, job changes and all sorts; I started to write the gardening books and the plot was my bolt hole, my sanctuary. With a year out, there was volunteering and using of all the skills that I had gained. I didn’t want what I gained to rust, ebb away having worked really hard. I always had Level Four on my agenda; me being me, I like to do things in order, when I am generally supposed to and focus my attention. Waiting for level 4 felt painful at the time, but I know now that this was important, it helped me to grow and quite literally with the plot at times!
When it came to starting diploma, there was excitement; I wanted to do this, I had waited what felt like an age and it was really important to me. This was the next phase in my development and my own growth. I knew it would be hard.
I harked back to my university days-it is ten years since I graduated from Aston-and this did hang around in my world. This diploma however, a person centred experiential course, was different. This was not just about my brain. This was about my sense of being, my self, who I am and what I am built from.
This, dear readers, was about me being taken apart and being put together.
Anyone who has trained to be a counsellor, will tell you that the training is hard. It is unlike anything that you have ever done; that this, is a journey.
See, that word again.
That is not the word, that resonates the most and for me.
It is certainly the umbrella term. What gets me the most?
So far, has done something of a number on me. I have experienced being broken up, battered, bruised and on so many levels. I have felt like a human lego house, with lots of lights being shone on me and smashed to pieces as I pick up lego bricks to start rebuilding.
Oh, and rainbows. The lego house is full of rainbows. I have found so many different shades to myself and really seen first hand the person centred approach.
When not a smashed up lego house, I have been in the default mode of Knight in dented armour running around with a quiver of roses. In recognising this is my default mode, I have recognised all the dents. I have recognised, that there is armour; some of which is welded on, some of which comes off and is put on as and when.
This first year has been something of a tornado at times. The first term, I was trying to find my feet; there was a significant bereavement that shook the boughs of my figurative trees and really hurt. I was also caught up with fragments, beating myself up with a huge great big imaginary stick, and not really looking after myself. The plot suffered, and my sanctuary felt so far away. It didn’t help, that the winter was in place and the plot was feeling it. In the second term, the middle term I realised why my stress response was and really was a knight standing in the middle of a tornado. I couldn’t connect with the plot, and I felt as though it was so empty and unworked. Term three, the summer term saw buds and blossom.
It has only been in the last two weeks that I have found my zing again.
What I have also found, is me.
And it’s done yet.
I have experienced how counselling and gardening are both about growth. Both are about seeds, developing, growth and being nurtured.
Carl Rogers spoke about potatoes in the basement; that has been so central to the last year, and I can say that now having not thought about it at the time.
Thinking about that picture at the top, I thinking about where I am now. I am thinking about how far I have travelled this year, over the last five years. That time, is a spectrum of so many things, so many different shades of blue, of dark and of light. There have been good times, bad times, success and failures. I have been through all sorts, and that makes me who I am.
I might be a knight in dented armour,and holding a shield of rainbows with quiver of roses. But I am me, and I would not be anyone else.
Roses and rainbrows take time. Roses are prickly but pretty, they take time to establish and pay dividends. Rainbows come after a storm.
Both, are about hope.
I like hope.