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.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Today I love...

Blossom, blue skies and bees

It's been a sticky sort of a week - aches, fears and frustrations swirling and if you'd asked me what I loved on Monday or Tuesday I might have struggled to find an answer. So the first thing I love today is that I feel fondly enough about life to make a list of loves!

I'm also loving - warm sun paired with cool April breezes, birds in flight, my new stack of library books calling out to me to be read, making lunch plans with friends, yoga, vanilla rooibos tea, feeling visible, my four colour biro, being at the start of a season, knowing that it is a full moon tomorrow, jacket potatoes planned for tea, soft cat noses, blossom, blossom and blossom, Artweeks soon, online shopping, the thought of tucking in to bed tonight.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

24 hours of Glastonbury

Walking up Glastonbury Tor 9th April 2016

Tree with offering ribbon at Glastonbury Tor

Journalling and researching St Michael

A week on from an overnight blast of Glastonbury I'm just starting to feel into where that magic place has created some new spaces to explore. My favourite time was spent with the Tor. It's a wonderful way marker of health, of vitality, of a trust in my body that for so many years evaded me. It's also right on the St Michael leyline and if my psychic reading is to be believed he's a spirit guide of mine.

I'm in two minds as to whether that last sentence needs an exclamation mark or not. Having a psychic reading was my "gently stepping over boundaries/living the willingness to be open to new experiences/exploring my magic" part of this fun trip. Before the reading it definitely would have had an exclamation mark; after, it feels out of place. It was such a gentle, straightforward experience. Much as I know better, I guess there's still a lot of Hollywood, Madame Zelda type associations in my mind when the word psychic arises. The lack of gold hoop earrings and tall, dark strangers was pleasingly compensated for by some very sane advice. Lots of gentle, practical things to explore - most of which centre around finding a real sense of peace and home within my body. This makes such deep sense to me. Years of chronic illness burn through any easy relationship between mind, body and spirit. I'm slowly rebuilding and letting magic be a part of that feels very important.

There was a moment when Sabrina and I were chatting where I wondered whether I should be telling her so much, as if I wanted to test what she could pick up from my soul without my conscious participation. That is such an illustration of this wrestling within me - the need to see it to believe it versus the deep longing for more than the surface. I take so much of 'science' on trust that, as with the moment when I committed to being open to allow her the best insight in to 'me' as a whole, I am committed to having some faith in the unseen, the mystery, the Divine.
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