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Category — Light

Faith is knowing….

Every moment of every day there are choices to be made. And thank goodness for my poor overloaded brain, that I make these choices quickly, instinctually and without too much rumination. I was always a bit freaked out by the film Sliding Doors, where there is one tiny moment – she misses a train – that changes the whole course of her life. If I choose a peppermint tea and the triple naughty chocolate brownie in my favourite cafe Black Books, am I doomed? Well, my thighs may be, but what about the rest of my life?

Holding on tight to these thoughts, I travelled to my ocean of the west before I made any more irreversible changes to my shifting sands in Stroud. There is nothing like a quiet shoreline and a new day rising golden, to help you feel better and make your 65 year old self say to your 45 year old self “listen honey, you’re gonna make it through. Relax, it all works out”.

So I may well be feeling like a bit of old frayed rope washed up on the beach, but the earth still smells good, reminding me that different things are always quietly being composted and remade. The world keeps turning. And, as my soon to be 16 year old said, in a sudden moment of wisdom “to make an omelette mum, you have to break the eggs. By the way, whats for tea, I’m starving?”

I’m feeling so crowded and over exposed, which makes me snort and laugh at myself as I share yet more personal thoughts on the book of Face and a blog that can be read by absolutely anyone. But I always love reading about the ins and outs of other people’s truthful stories, it helps me remember that we all pretty much work through the same issues, feel the same anxieties and fragility; we hurt each other in similar ways, love and hold each other and mend in the same ways too. It is just life, it is what happens.

Pathways can be fraught with things you didn’t expect though, coming out of a bag at ya….one minute the way is solid, next thing you know someone’s carelessness, or their own pain, can have you right down there, wondering who turned the lights off. Turn towards the sunshine, feel your way right outta there sister. All things pass.

I’m not really sure where I am going with any of this, its just one more pathway in my head, one more meandering thought to carry me through March, towards spring and warmth, blossoms, more travelling, more pink scarf.

If I am very lucky my oceans of the West and East will be blue and sparkling when I reach them, my hometown midpoint in Stroud will remain lovely and friend-filled, and my wayward hormones will be kind to me.

“When you come to the edge of all of the light you’ve known, and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown; faith is knowing one of two things will happen. You’ll have something solid to stand on, or you’ll be taught how to fly.” Patrick Overter

March 16, 2014   5 Comments

Time, loss and change

Oh hello! Did you think I had been eaten by gnomes? or my pets? or that Scotty had finally beamed me up and beyond to the blue yonder? Disturbing thought.

No, here I am, all is well, sort of. But this New Year time through January and February has been more intense than I ever remember it being. I’ve had to resort to tidying the odd cuboard to calm my nerves on occasion. This is what I found in the latest poke around a dark drawer – last year’s intention list – ha, ha, let’s see how I did….

Hmmmmm, not bad on balance, but slightly disconcerting that I marked myself on my own list…at least it wasn’t in red pen.

The hardest part about January was losing someone I loved.

I have always considered myself to have come from a world of women, to have been surrounded by women – mothers, godmothers, girlfriends and daughters. They nurture me, hold me, inspire me, they are my life.

And yet I have been blessed to have had the most wonderful men in my life too – father, uncle, godfather, partners and sons, who, now I look closely, have been interesting, thoughtful, and funny and who have also gently shaped who I have become.

To have lost one of these men suddenly seven years ago was heartbreaking. To be losing another, in slow motion, even more so. But to have been given this time with them, in the first place is surely the best treasure that I have been gifted.

Saying goodbye to someone has made me take a long, hard look at this thing we call time. It is so hard to measure, and yet that is what I am trying to do. Suddenly, it is more precious almost than the breath in my body, and I really don’t know how much of it I have, for my own life, or for any of the other precious people in my world, and there are many. How can it be that life is so very long, and hard sometimes, and then it is over, in the smallest moment, with that final breath?

In the middle of the saddest time of this last 6 weeks, I was able to get away for a few days. I sat in a roundhouse with my sisters, and passed on my blessing for strong endings and brave new beginnings. It went into a cauldron tended by a beautiful woman land guardian, along with the spells, prayers and wishes of nineteen other women. It was stirred in, mixed together with ocean totems and we have each taken a jar of it home. Mine is sitting here expectantly, waiting. In a way, I guess that is what I am doing. Sitting, waiting, for what, I do not know. But there is a space growing, so we will see.

In the meantime, there is plenty of work and organising to be done with Wool Against Weapons – 25 weeks left! And I am counting all the small blessings that are keeping me going in this winter time of change……

the best rice pudding in the world – you clever girl, for nailing the ultimate recipe and sharing it with me -

……a funny beast to share it with, he makes me smile (when I am not wanting to kill him for his bad deeds)

….sharing the best and maddest time with gorgeous women, preparing food together and laughing A LOT…

….the gentle smell of Suzi’s beeswax melting slowly in my kitchen, to make balm and honey…

…..finally seeing two years worth of ocean treasure collected up and ready to make into totems by my ocean sister…

….and because Imbolc’s light has quietly crept in to this winter grey, the making of Brigids crosses and the wonderfulness and pale green of spring bulbs – the sweetest blessing. May we all slowly unfurl ourselves, mend and stretch in to this new time….

February 10, 2014   5 Comments

We Were Made for These Times

Thank you Clarissa Pinkola Estes for your inspiring words to carry us in to 2014

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.
Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

December 31, 2013   4 Comments

Samhain by the Ocean

Beautiful and quiet week, catching up on sleep, knitting, having lovely food cooked for me. The beginnings of mellow winter sunlight, crab apples, pumpkins, rosehip and birch. Feeling a sadness for this last visit this year to my ocean of the east, and a rightness in getting myself ready for the rich, dark dreaming time that Samhain ushers in. Wishing you all the most gentle of late autumn time, may all changes be for the good.

November 1, 2013   No Comments

Today

Today is Thursday, perhaps a good day to check in and say hello. There’s not been any bigness to my week really, not any grand adventures to make you swoon. No big excitements or scary bits (apart from Tuesday’s mad wind) to report. But it has been pretty nonetheless, in a frothy, blossomy sort of way.

A beautiful quietness has settled in our valley today, and I woke up hearing the sound of swifts in a cloudless sky. Herb and I meandered our way up to the Cemy, a nature reserve, to bliss out under the blossoms (and chase a few balls)

Following on from last weekend, I have been thinking about parenting and all its myriads of choices. Sadness for pathways not taken, children not born, and a love for what is. These ideas have woven their way into my artwork unconsciously and into a new small booklet that I am working on called Blessing the Way. It’s my journey into the land that is parenting, from birth through to the heroic act of letting them go. All from my shed at the end of my garden.

I’ve been squeezing in other jobs between the work of everyday too – this morning making a nettle tincture, from nettles picked earlier. With dropping iron levels and a lecture from my doctor about burn out, I figured this was a good start. No doubt it will taste revolting. Then I will know its working

I’ve been following the sun around my house like a woman possessed…working in whatever little slices of sunlight I can find, and where the wifi will grace me with its presence. A good spot was discovered today, perched on the front doorstep, where I can survey vast swathes of my property – all 20 feet of it. Second big advantage is that I can keep perfect watch over the newly transplanted squash that Cath and Sally gave me – like a sentry – that baby’s not getting eaten on my watch – oh no siree.

And finally, I have been painting a roof panel for Kesty’s Red Hearth which will open for the summer next month. My thoughts keep turning to honey bees and the communities that they create together. So too, the women in my life, and the circling that we do together.

It’s a message I keep coming back to over and over. Together we are stronger. Invincible. One of these days I will perhaps stop trying to go it alone, and actually share the load, delegate some jobs. But for today, there is blossom to smile over, a to-do list to tick off, and the merry month of May to love and be loved

One last word: nettle tincture alone will not deal with anaemia. I’m sure you already know that….but just in case! If you think your iron levels are dropping, get yourself checked out. I’m told cake is especially helpful in really dire cases…..

May 16, 2013   2 Comments

Blue sky days

It’s not the dark that I mind about wintertime, no, dark I love. It is the sometimes relentless grey that makes me a tad obsessive about tracking the sun, and those blue skies that come with it. Watching, waiting for it to arrive….willing it to burst into this waiting valley of mine….

This week we woke up to golden….that most precious of lights, filtering in through the curtains and dancing a little in our front gardens

And hot on the heels of the golden beginning – oh yes! Deeply blue – it’s all I really need to be happy. Sometimes I forget this, and meander down the road of other loves: books, music, chocolate, lost stripey bobble hats….but no! Deeply blue – it’s as simple as that.

I get all dizzy with excitement and run up the nearest hill to catch this possibly fleeting light

….whereas Miss Martha, the coolest of cats, stays close to home and tracks the sunshineyness as it seeps into the garden

I love the way winter light tickles around our house – it’s not the windows-flung open, big hot light that washes inisde during the summer (yes, I did say summer, hope springs eternal). But this light is pretty nonetheless, and it shyly whispers into rooms when you’re not watching

I look at my house with different eyes, as it pours into otherwise dark corners

Sometimes this is a good thing….clothes I wear and wear until they beg for mercy look a little more colourful and forgiving in the day’s goldenness

My windows however are less than merciful as the light makes them scream out ‘you see, look everyone, we haven’t been washed since 2007, shocking, this is how she treats us, the hussy’. Well, that’s enough of that nonsense. It’s bad enough that my ears suffer stropping teenagers, I’m not about to have backchat from windows as well. And anyway, I have a hot date on the deck….

Because it is still February, and technically winter, there is still fireside watching and sofa sitting that can be done, when friends drop in, in their lovely layered woollies.

I am even beyond caring whether it is cold or not. It is the magical soup of deeply blue sky that I want to fall in to, throw myself in to, give myself up to, completely, utterly, for ever. So there you have it. Full. Deep. Blue. Grateful. Me.

February 20, 2013   5 Comments

A few February days…..

Am I meandering through these days, tumbling through them, or just standing still and staring at my feet?

A little bit of all three probably. February does that to you sometimes. So to begin with, a Fairy Mouse (that I promised to show a while back) – because knitting small creatures is really the only thing to do when waiting for the light to return. She has a naughty sister that she visits sometimes and together they eat chocolate and scamper around attics causing mayhem and badness.

So back to my February days. There are early mornings making bread.

….and crazy afternoons with my favourite small boy….

There are hills waiting to be walked

…and a Sunday morning escape to our local art gallery to see Simon Packard’s fantastically bold and inspiring work.

Anything can fill a February day, and very often does, such is their disorganisation. February sometimes doesn’t know what it is. Is it deep, dark winter, or is tipping into Spring? It waits and watches, or tiptoes hesitantly, less it shakes more snow and blueness on to us.

If you are lucky, it will give you days of sisterhood, sweet balm to the soul, even if not all your precious sisters can be there.

And if that is so, you will walk those hills, and watch together for that returning light…

….and it will come….

There may well be sunsets the colour of peardrops and happy hearts to match

…with hands held quietly, and strong arms around us. These are a few of my February days.

February 9, 2013   4 Comments

A quiet surviving….

Quietly, without ceremony or fanfare, Imbolc arrives. Candles are lit, Brigid’s crosses are woven, and my eyes scan my days for bluer skies and light returning. I have made it this far through the winter.

What is Imbolc then? What does it bring? It is a wonderful fire festival, a reminder of what burns inside, what endures. What waits and grows. The seed, a dream, dream seeds. And just to help us remember that all things return, the very first snowdrops arrive in our woods.

When everything seems bare, and barely there, what is it that keeps me going? Where are my strong roots? What is it that I believe in?

Do I have roots that I can trust, or am I just the palest of flowers that is brave enough or foolish enough to poke my head above this cold winter earth?

I want to tell you about a woman who is surviving, who is enduring, who will not let go or give up. A woman with strong, strong roots. Her name is Haneen Zoabi, she is my age, and she is a Palestinian Israeli citizen, committed to finding peaceful solutions. She was brave enough to stand for Knesset, parliament, in the recent elections, despite continued bullying and death threats by people who are afraid. I am not for or against any person, group or cultural idenity. I am pro-peace and I love her vision and absolute resilience.

She is the first female MK in an Arab party (Balad), and she is focused on employment for women, an end to violence against women and girls, education and children’s rights. She believes, as I do, in equality for all. Those are deep roots.

While the world keeps turning, wars keep going around and around in circles, and my little stream keeps flowing through my valley – we need a quiet surviving of spirits that are determined and brave, that will not be flattened by strong winds, by winter, by darkness.

People who carry on, no matter what. Women who can ride storms, live with being afraid and hated and still weave amazing ideas in to a big scary not-ready-for-them world.

This woman, like so many intrepid women today, means business. In 2009 she met with Code Pink and the Women’s Coalition for Peace, in 2010 she boarded a flotilla with other activists to protest the Occupation of Gaza. And then there is my small world. Where is my energy this Imbolc, where will my thoughts be in the coming seasons? Where we put our words and our hearts, well – it counts. What we focus on grows.

This Imbolc, let there be colour, imagination, growth in brave directions, a holding out for better ways, more peaceful days. Let us cheer on these women, in their quiet surviving.

February 2, 2013   2 Comments

Holding the light

The light has been returning for weeks now, and my antennae have busily searched everyday for little glimpses of it. How important does sunshine become, when we live in such a grey land? I have sniffed it out, every last droplet of light, woman-made or otherwise, that moves across the house, across the valley. From candlelit breakfasts in January, to improvised frisco-disco evenings after supper, and coloured rainbow sunshine dancing across the dog – I love it all. The holding close of light is passing….there will soon be an abundance of it, bursting all around us – to bathe in, sing in, enjoy all day and long into evenings too. And it always feels like a miracle that I am most humbly grateful to be alive and unfolding in.

March 9, 2011   2 Comments