Saturday, October 01, 2016

Open the love-window

The lily needs some wild Darling

There is some kiss we want
with our whole lives,
the touch of Spirit on the body.

Seawater begs the pearl
to break its shell.

And the lily, how passionately
it needs some wild Darling!

At night, I open the window
and ask the moon to come
and press its face against mine.
Breathe into me.

Close the language-door,
and open the love-window.

The moon won't use the door,
only the window.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Library Love

Books borrowed from Temple Cowley library
Just back from our three-weekly date night with a stack of new reads. Love the freedom in library picks, choosing on a whim, judging by covers, blurbs, mere fancy much more than when I am paying for a book. I find it easier to stop reading too if it doesn't catch my imagination. Back it can go and nothing lost.

Our little library visit has been a regular in the diary since my trip to the States last autumn. I visited two glorious libraries in Provincetown and Boston. Stunning buildings with huge collections that made you itch to just pull up a chair and stay all day. The previous summer I visited the most delightful gem of a members' library in Providence that seemed so perfectly formed it could have fallen from the pages of one of the novels it housed. They seemed to honour the beauty of the books that lived within them and like they would capture and create new bibliophiles second by second. I felt like our libraries paled into the background against these widely varied but equally glorious creations. Then I wondered if I wasn't just out of touch it had been so astonishingly long since I actually crossed the threshold of any of our public lending libraries.

So all inspired I renewed my local branch library visiting habits and it turns out it's still rather lovely in there despite the funding cuts. Other members of the public have not neglected it in the way I did. It's not in the league of any of the gems mentioned above but for a little area of a little city it's not too shabby. Though that is exactly what the public Central Library is. In fourteen years of living in this city I have been twice. The second time last autumn to see if my shock and dismay at my first visit in 2002 had really been justified. I think they were. It's a hideous building with a limited collection. Maybe our main library is designed to weed out the aesthetes, those who sort of like books but only if they can sit on a comfy chair and read one in natural light. Maybe it's to lending what Black Books is to retail. In a city famed for the universities libraries it's horribly out of keeping. A definite area where gown beats town!

There's something so nostalgic about library trips for me, so many things still feel the same. I basically lived in the Saltash lending library as a kid, was going to be a librarian, until I was going to be a lawyer which I researched in a book from their shelves. I loved summer reading challenges (those are still going strong). It was right next door to my primary school and for my whole childhood was a treasured visiting and meeting space. They had funny wire bucket chairs and it was a huge high, purpose built building with a roof that leaked into the atrium where the reference section was. Oh I should so go back for a visit next time I'm down that way. I still have a Cornwall lending ticket though I fear it may be defunct by now. I remember when we switched from our six little cardboard holders for the paper tickets to the barcoded card. These days we normally check our books out on the automated machine. Crazy! I do miss the stamped date though, nothing quite like the sound of the library stamp.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Summer of Not Much Love

The cove at Bank End Farm, Isle of Wight

Steephill Cove, Isle of Wight


Queen Nina, Siamese Ruler

Simplicty, the best advice from the Angel Cards

Graffiti pavement bunny

Anchor Anna Maria Horner 'Sketchbook' tapestry

Castle Ring, Powys

Church Stretton from The Long Mynd

Soay Sheep at Castle Ring
Oh how I yearned for a long, languid summer. Dreamt of sinking in to a deep ease in my body and the days. We bookended the months with an early June and a late August holiday. Quiet, beautiful country times to enrich the experience. Lovely as those weeks have been (are being) this has not been the summer of my dreams and desires and therein as ever lies the crux of the hurt. Wanting my experience to be other than it is. I feel like I've written so many versions of this post over the past few years, there's frustration with that of course but also some understanding that this is the way it will be until I find a rhythm of acceptance and surrender. Underneath knowing that perhaps it will even always be this way, perhaps this is always going to be my brick wall, thumped into periodically as I spiral around my days and that is okay. It's not about how you fall, it's about how you pick yourself up.

I have been surrounded by love and beauty and yet closed off from it. Fixated on what feels like the rock bottom wish of 'I just want to be healthy'. That isn't the bottom though, as I discovered at the start of the year. It's that old friend 'earn your place' in disguise. Be healthy to have energy to do more to prove I am worth the space and resources on our spinning disco ball. That this is my default setting is just the hardest lesson for me to learn, the fear that puts on so many different sets of clothes and sneaks up on me time and again. Somehow even dotting and dabbling abandoned me by the end of June. Physically spent and emotionally just too vulnerable for all the angst and the tragedies in the wider world this summer I've basically put myself in a bunker. No social media, very consciously used and limited time online and stripped down social engagements to just try and find some place where I felt like I could breathe, where I felt a flicker of interest in and excitement about this wondrous world. Numbing out in front of the tv. Diving in to fluffy novels or stripped down detective fiction without any emotional pitfalls to fall in to. Wrapped up against the woes of the world, coping with our own domestic drama as we said farewell to the head of our house, Queen Nina, our dear old Siamese. I think it was something of a shock to us all that even she had to bend finally to the rules of nature.

Writing this from the end of the summer it feels like I've coaxed my way through the deepest levels of grue. My eyes are open again, my spirit communicative. I'm managing the sinusitis the best I can and have accepted that I can't find an elusive combination that will make it go away. What seemed like giving in now feels like acceptance that strips things back to the original hurt not the layers of story on top that end up being the hardest aspects to deal with. Feeling for what feels enriching within those limits, day by day, moment by moment. Going slowly. Reading a more varied diet again. Letting the Olympics shed a golden glow on the tv viewing. Picking up some simple, simple crafts: tapestry and mistake rib knitting. Accepting, accepting, accepting.

I'm not sorry to feel erratic days of heat and chill. To see ripening fruits and the earliest of turning leaves. Happy to be beginning to say a farewell to a not much loved summer and welcoming the change of seasons with open arms.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Humpty Dumpty

Practical advice on coping with chronic illness to stumble across when needed
Where all the king's horses and all the king's men would fail, when the bleak whisper of you're broken and you will never be well swirls these things will help:

Breathe. It will not always feel this hard. This too shall pass. Go on swear at me, slap my smug face. It's still true. I know it's the last thing that seems possible but batten down the hatches and just get through this storm by letting the breath connect you with your body. You're in this together.

Listen. Your body can tell you what will make it feel better, one step at a time. Believe it whatever your ego wants to tell you about what is 'healthy' or 'best' or 'right'. You don't do healing, you allow it.

Sleep. Yes, you can go back to bed after you just got up. Yes, you can have as many naps a day as you need. You will not always need this much sleep, it is not a bottomless pit, you can fill it up.

Water. Drink it, bathe in it, sit by it.

Friends. If you can't get to them, email them, phone them, reach out and let them talk to you. Let them listen to you ramble your way back to sense. Laugh and cry with them. They want to show you how much they love you. Receive.

Trees. They're your friends too. If you can't get out of bed yet go to the woods in your mind. Get close to them as soon as you can.

Breathe. Keep coming back to deep belly breaths. Ground in your body and feel your way. There are no rules. There is no right way to do anything. Let your body guide you. It's not about what you do or don't do it's about how you do or don't do it.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Dotting and dabbling

Dawn chorus bird walk from the Earth Trust with Ben Carpenter

Bluebell woods at Aston Rowant Nature Reserve

May oak tree canopy at Nettlebed
What am I doing here?

It's a question more for life than this blog, though the layer of dust I just swept aside makes me note the relevance here too! It's a question that has got undue airtime so far this year. I think it came to the fore when I decided I was healthy, over the ME and then rather than revelling in the luxury of feeling healthy I somehow jumped to the story that I'd better get my ass in to gear and do something to demonstrate my spectacular awesomeness to the world.

Is it a coincidence that I've had one niggly illness after another since the end of January? I've felt like crap and all the while loaded more hurt and stress upon by body as I battled the fear that the chronic fatigue is not behind me. It's a sad fact that not recovering well from a cold and then finding yourself locked in the joy that this is chronic sinusitis replicates a hell of a lot of the symptoms and worse: the feelings - the doubts - the questions about what is the 'best' thing to do, what is the 'right' thing to do.

This little ship o'mine rights itself a little more quickly these days. Bailing those toxic, unanswerables out when I get the perspective to observe them.  It all drags though. Takes energy. To find the acceptance of where I am today, to draw back in the spiralling thoughts and let the focus come to the next thing. Then when a flicker of energy arises feeling so bored with plodding through the familiar furrows, till the energy is spent in wondering what am I doing here?

Oh cycle of doom! I seek release from you in letting go of that silly question, remembering beautiful words from Rumi. Stopping and watching nature unleash majesty all around me, finding the space for wonder instead of brick walls. Dotting and dabbling, a bit of this and a bit of that doesn't make a cohesive narrative in the moment but one day I'll look back and join the dots, or swim deep in a pool that I found by dipping in my toe.
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