IN YER HEED

Creative expression or me, or lack thereof, is like walking down a silent, dark road without hope or sunshine.

That’s how feel like when I’m not expressing myself, like a hawk, circling, checking the environment and gathering my bearings before I bring myself into landing.

They say writing the second book can be the hardest and this myth has stayed with me. Then I remember a simple fact, this isn’t my second book. It’s my fourth.  And as I embraced this realisation, I acknowledged a deeper truth.  Creativity is not wholly 134,000 words.    Creativity can be a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a play or a soundbite.

Creativity is whatever you want it to be and what a glorious freedom it is.

One of my favourite counselling modalities, Gestalt, describes people as being “the sum of all parts” in that we are the culmination of our past, our circumstances, our interactions and our present through our window of the world. 

I look back and although I appreciate my way of thinking, it no longer resonates.  There are no rules.  Creativity isn’t beholden to a finished product.  It’s honoured by the journey you take to get there.

I’ll say that again.

Creativity isn’t beholden to a finished product.  It’s honoured by the journey you take to get there.

Lisa Young

It’s the expression of the moment and from this moment I am going to document my creative self in a way I’ve never done before.

Once again, I feel like the young girl who once picked up a pencil and wrote a story because it was fun. I just had to listen to find her in my own way and in my own time.

See you on the journey.

Lisa x

© Copyright Lisa May Young

I AM LISA

I had two names.

My pseudonym, Cassie Kennedy, was born when I became a writer.  Working for Police Scotland as a Researcher it seemed like a good idea at the time, I didn’t examine the reasons why I needed to embrace another identity.  I only trusted my instincts.

Cassie Kennedy become my champion, the more confident part of myself and I gloried in her presence.  When fear shrunk Lisa, Cassie came to protect her.

The dichotomy is I didn’t acknowledge or accept my need to hide within another identity.  Now in retrospect, I understand why.  Cassie was my protector and like a lioness with her young cub, she kept me safe.  And I’m forever grateful because when I could not see in the dark, she took my hand in hers and led me into the light.

I will be forever grateful to her, my family and my friends for helping me to see Lisa.  Lisa May to be exact named because my Mum, the original lioness, liked the name and May, after my kind-hearted and loving Gran. 

For years, Lisa hid in the dark, scared of moving, scared of making a noise and scared of being hurt because she didn’t understand anything other than fear.

In the last year, I’ve found these twin energies are more alike than I gave them credit for.  It turns out Lisa is independent, determined and spirited and she smiles and laughs regularly. And I have delighted in making her re-acquaintance.

To those who know me as either Lisa or Cassie I’ll still answer to both and I’m thankful for your understanding.  For I am both vulnerable and brave.  

I am me. 

THE YEAR OF SAYING YES

Recently, while out celebrating with friends, I came upon an idea.  It was a night of celebration; a culmination of 10 months of introspection, self-awareness and a feeling of merging into something more than I have been.  My idea manifested as ‘the year of saying yes’ of being open to new experiences, with caveats, I’m allowed to say no to anything making my nostrils flare.  While I say this in jest, genuine curiosity lingers at where this approach may take me.

However, I’ve not always felt this way.  Three years ago, I wrote a blog called ‘open your heart’ and at the time I genuinely believed my heart was open.  It wasn’t.  It was locked in a prison of my own making.

In recent years, I have cancelled plans with friends because I was unsure of the arrangements, I’ve halted relationships because I was scared and I have closed my heart in case it gets broken.  And I’ve done it all because I wanted to stay safe.  And to those I pushed away, for my part, I’m truly sorry.  I didn’t know why then, I do now.

Creativity is the only place I allowed myself to be free and through the world of my imagination I have lived a thousand lives, yet as the ending of any story unfolds, I have discovered within the now, the expectations, the what if’s, the maybes and the outcomes no longer matter.

I’m writing this now because it’s time for me to step out in faith, to believe and trust in myself and others.  Even if it’s dark outside, even if it’s scary and even if it hurts, I’m still going to do it.   I’m going to let myself to be vulnerable and be seen.  I am going to live and love a full, brave and happy life.

That’s the secret.  When you unlock the door, you get yourself, the real you, and it’s such a gift.  I’m so thankful I’m here right now.  And as for the what’s on the other side of the door? I don’t know yet, I’ll see it when I get there. 

THE SUN, THE MOON AND THE STARS

Recently, I watched The Theory of Everything.  It’s a movie that’s been on my list for a while and my viewing came at exactly the right time.

Professor Stephen Hawking.  A man whose life epitomised making the impossible – possible.  When diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) aged 21 he was given a couple of years to live and survived for another fifty-five.  

And what a life he lived as a Theoretical Physicist, Cosmologist and Author.  Translating astronomical theory into an everyday conversation.  I own a well-thumbed copy of A Brief History of Time and every time I pick it up it makes me feel smart and intellectually insecure at the same time.  The whimsical first sentence enthrals me.

“We live in a strange and wonderful universe.”

What I love about Professor Stephen Hawking is his spirit.  His undeniable passion for science and thirst for learning.  As his diagnosis progressed, he communicated at the end of his life by using only his left cheek to type his words into a computer screen.  Embracing life experientially with infectious self-deprecating humour with appearances on The Simpsons and The Big Bang Theory.  And who can forget the smile on his face as he experienced weightlessness at the age of 75. 

What a life. 

When he passed earlier this year the scientific community reacted with genuine grief at the loss of this inspiring soul and celebrated not only his unique contribution to their field but his humanity.  Professor Stephen Hawking never gave up.  No matter what the limitations he always persevered.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about perseverance.  As a scholar of psychology and counselling, you naturally refer to your internal building blocks and last week I discovered the source.  I listened to my Mum talking about determination, how once she starts something, she finishes it and I marvelled at her.  My Mum describes herself an in introvert and she is, however, she is also my rock, my champion, my guiding light and my dose of common sense when I need it most.  I’m so very lucky to be her daughter.  And when I grit my teeth, dig deeper and work harder, I call upon the inheritance my Mum gave me to go the extra mile. 

When you are doing what you love – what burns the fire of your passion, you feel so alive and inspired you exist within a world where the impossible is possible and nothing else exists.

Professor Stephen Hawking lived in that world and so do I.  I may not get there today or tomorrow but I’ll get there.  I always do.   Because I’m my mother’s daughter and I will never ever give up.

The composition, The Arrival of the Birds, by Johann Johannson from The Theory of Everything soundtrack is magical and I would encourage a listen.

THE RIGHT TIME

It’s taken me two years to start writing my new book. 

This was not deliberate.  The story was always lulling about in my head, like a cinema screen playing on a continual loop with scenes of rich characters bejewelled by circumstances and fate. 

For the last year I have been promising myself that I would put pen to paper and I did, I wrote a book.  But it didn’t feel right.  Like I was writing the ghost of a story when the real one was actually buried deep within. 

Then life intervened, the study of psychology and counselling consumed me.  And as I learned to be mindful and elevate my self awareness I asked myself why I was not writing the story I am meant too. 

The reason when it came was unexpected. 

Visiting Samye Ling recently, I explored the surrounding scenery and found myself on a pebble strewn beach as the Solway Firth flowed past.  The area glowed with sunlight and was held together with a series of small waterfalls.  It was beautiful. 

Sitting down on the rocks with my notebook and dipping my painted toenails into the water to cool in the sun I started to write.  I finally started to write my new book, as it is meant to be written. 

And in the midst of writing, I paused as I got the ‘why’.  Why I had hesitated, procrastinated and distracted myself.  It was because I needed to take a moment for myself.  It was because I had to stay still for me.  

I needed to be selfless in my self-care. 

I’m the Queen of busy, working without a pause, so much so I feel guilty for taking time for myself.  On that day watching the water trickle as nature decreed, I realised the pause,  instead of a punishment in waiting had been the most precious gift. 

To write this story, I had to understand who I was and where I had come from and it was only once this process had been completed the gift was bestowed and the story in its entirety was revealed. 

Sometimes a pause, even for a couple of years, is worth every single moment and the learning is a treasure and in some instances it takes sitting by the river in the middle of the Scottish lowlands to see it. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; give the story time to float down the river and when it arrives let it sing in your bones.  Be out of time and embrace the learning. 


It’s definitely worth waiting for. 

THE KINSHIP CHRONICLES – THE PROCESS OF WRITING

I absolutely loved writing The Binding Veil.

When I think of the months, I spent writing this book, I remember a feeling of unaltered childlike joy.  As I had become so part of the world, I created in my head it became as real to me as the keys on my laptop. 

When I’m asked about The Kinship Chronicles and the process of writing, I confess I never intended for it to be a book.  I start writing a series of what I thought was short stories  with my only aim to finish one each time I sat down to write.  Then I got curious about these people who inhabited my psyche and wondered what their story was.  Writing furiously as I tried to accurately describe the vivid images born in my head.  

I always say that when I wrote The Feathered Roots I was finding my feet, when I wrote Scatter of Kin I found my way and when it came to The Binding Veil I was loving it. 

The physical manifestation of a book feels like climbing towards the summit of K2, a physical and mental feat fraught with difficulty.  If you’re going to get there you must train hard, do the writing, learn your craft, be determined as the world tries to take your attention away and be more resilient than you have ever been in your life.  When you feel like giving up, you don’t – you grit your teeth and dig in your heels and keep going because you’re in it for the long haul. 

Success is a personal journey, some say it’s to be on the New York Times bestsellers list.  For me, it was the day the book arrived.  Opening the box and holding the book that I had dreamed of and written was a moment and memory that will stay with me forever and a day. 

Celebrating these memories, I now find myself working creatively again with childlike enthusiasm and whenever I am asked about my new story, I clap my hands together like a child.  I’m sure Gestalt in his study of unconscious body language would find this behaviour particularly intriguing. 

So TKC, my first bairn, thank you for all you have given me, and I let you go with love, pride and hope as you fly away and find a home wherever the wind takes you. 


ACCLAIM FOR THE KINSHIP CHRONICLES® 

*****

“If you enjoyed The Hunger Games, you’ll love The Kinship Chronicles”

*****

“Magical, dangerous and romantic, an absolute triumph for Cassie Kennedy.”

*****

“I was completely hooked with the book from the start. I absolutely loved the character development and got completely lost in the story!”

***** 

“This is a magical book that grips you from the start. It’s a lovely piece of escapism that touches your heart. I can see this book becoming a very big hit with readers of all ages. “

THE BINDING VEIL 

Amber’s dream of a happy family reunion has come true.  But all is not as it seems. As Amber and Aiden finally meet their father, the King, she is more confused than ever. 

As the delicate veil between good and evil, right and wrong is torn; Amber, Aiden, Duncan and Rose find themselves charged with saving both Sensio and Earth.  

Can they restore the natural balance in time to protect themselves, their kin and their worlds? 

The Binding Veil is the epic conclusion to The Kinship Chronicles®

Who will win?

THE LAUNDRY ROOM

I’ve not written for a while.

Okay, I’m telling a fib, I have except it has been writing of the academic kind.   Combining a Psychology Degree with the COSCA Counselling Skills course has been a challenging and intense and I have loved every single moment of it. 

I’ve always had a curiosity about people, their beginnings, nature versus nurture, motivations, dreams, behaviour and actions and while I embrace my spirituality, I also embrace a science that illuminates your perception of self and change. 

The first two modules of COSCA are intense and come with a plethora of emotions, because when you seek answers to why we behave the way we do, you naturally glance inward and take a peek at yourself.  You have to, because if you are going to sit across from a client and form a positive therapeutic relationship you have to be willing to face yourself first. 

Modalities within counselling have a varying approaches and are as individual as each therapist and while I am a student of all, I find Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) intriguing as it focuses on how your beliefs, thoughts and attitudes affect your feelings and consequential behaviour.  

And within this psychology, The Laundry Room can be found.  

We all have this room in our brain, the locked door that holds the icky stuff.  You throw in the memory and the experiences and bolt the door.  Then you open it up again and have a look inside before you shut it again and numb with a distraction.  Then a trauma occurs and you can’t close the door anymore because you have to clean your laundry.  It’s not easy or comfortable. 

It is courageous and empowering. 

Because when you know who you are; what your value system is, your attitudes and respect yourself enough to appreciate they will evolve as you do, you will practice true and authentic self-care.  You will value yourself and your life experience more than you have ever done in your life. 

So, if I could leave with one parting wish, I would like it be this; with the appropriate support, open the door and clean your laundry.  There is nothing to fear from what we have inside.  Trauma can be healed and the space within reveals a cavern of possibilities, ideas, hopes, dreams and life ready to be filled with a new dream. 


The link below may be helpful. 

BACP Find a Therapist

ANCESTORS – ROBERT HUNTER ANDERSON

My Granddad Pete is the original storyteller. 

Whenever I see him he always tells a story, whether it be about a piece of history he has witnessed, people he has to meet or experiences he has had, all encased with link words, which he uses to weave it all together.

So, when I told him that I was going to do some family research a couple of years ago, Granddad was interested.  Ancestry is an intermittent hobby of mine, picked up once every few months when I go to Register House and pour over birth certificates and census records.  It is more than a visit, it is an experience and it is one filled with emotion, as you move from euphoria to grief to hope within the space of a few minutes.  It is truly the definition of who do you think you are.

For me, it is the family stories, the folklore steeped from generations past that piques my interest most and it is these stories from my Granddad Pete that encouraged my latest investigation.

For as long as I can remember, my Granddad has spoken of his Dad going to America in the 1920s to find work as a Stonemason.  Leaving Fife to for the shores of Canada, before crossing the border into the United States in April 1923 where he ended up in Chicago.  The same year an infamous resident, Al Capone, moved to the South Side.

Stepping off the train he encountered a policeman describing him “as wide as he was tall” and shaking his hand in the Mason style, he was directed towards a building company, receiving 3 weeks work and a roof over his head on the same day.  Within minutes of having the work offered, he had started on the job.  Telling my Granddad that you got work “as long as you were willing to work hard.”

He had an American girlfriend, a serious relationship that did not progress to marriage and in 1930, suffering from a stomach ulcer, he decided to come home.  Travelling back via Canda with a friend and selling his car to pay $26 for the fare home.  Driving back to Montreal on 26th July 1931 on the Ship Letitia coming home to Sutherland Street in Kirkcaldy via Glasgow.  A year later, he married Agnes Kirkcaldy Brough and in 1933 my Granddad Pete was born.

For all his adventures and bravery in forging himself in a new world for a time, Robert Hunter Anderson is described as a quiet man and a hard worker, nicknamed ‘The Yank’ for the subtle twang of the American accent he picked up on his trip to the Wild Wild West.

Grandad Pete recalls going out with his Dad and his brothers in his early 1950s to a local pub and remembers his Dad looking at him and his brothers and saying “I wish I had done this more often.”  I like to think, perhaps, instead of talking he told the story of America to my Granddad, using his past to bond with the future. 

As Carl Jung once said; “who has fully realised that history is not contained in thick books but lives in our very blood.”  

For me, that is what family history is all about, it is the stories that sing in your veins.  It may have been a shipping manifest that brought me, however, I have got to know Robert Hunter Anderson and admire him for his tenacity at striking out to make a life for himself in what would have been very difficult circumstances. And my Granddad Pete also got to remember his Dad, and I can understand where his keen intelligence and appetite for learning has come from. 

And as this website is my virtual cave wall and one day my name will be on a certificate too, I am leaving this behind so my ancestors know of my Granddad Pete, his stories and his dad Peter Hunter Anderson who adventured to America.

I do and it is precious. 

THE MOMENT

2017 has been a great year. 

Life changes in an instant. The ordinary instant.

Joan Didion

In retrospect,  I did not appreciate the intricacies and surprises that it would bring or the experiences that would befall me and in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t see it all coming because when it did, I was truly amazed. 

Looking back, it is two moments that defined this year for me. 

The first was in Vienna, sitting on the steps of the Austrian Library overlooking the Museum Quarter in the sun at the grand old age of 40. It was a moment when life just bubbled up inside me and I knew I had everything I needed.  And that night, if I had closed my eyes and fallen into a final sleep, I would have gone away happy. 

Not that I am wishing myself away, far from it, I still have many adventures to come.

The next moment happened driving home from Dunfermline along the A92 on a rainy, cold and dark night.  I had spent the evening speaking about choices and helping others and it happened again.  I was smiling in the darkness as I felt pure joy.  Since then, it has been a constant emotion.

Happiness is an inside job and it is not determined by other people or events.  I have been wandering for years and now I’m finally heading down the right road.  Bloody hell, it feels good. 

So, if I could leave you with one parting wish, I would like it to be this; find your happy and let life bubble up inside you.  I am.