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Category — Love

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

The Twinkling Time

Ah ha! You thought I really had been sitting on my bad ass on the sofa after last months wee confessional, didn’t you? Oh you faithless friends. No, I have been uncharacteristically focused and disciplined, after the idea sprang into my head to make all my christmas presents (foolish girl). So I wondered if you fancied a little wander around my stitchy offerings – goodness knows you will appreciate them more than my children will……so walk this way…..

Right, so the staple of the presents are….drum roll….lavender bags!! Yay, no surprises there. But despite the quantities I’ve made, they have actually been quite fun and easy, and my Husquavarna machine and I have only fallen out a couple of times in the making. I call that a result…

Next up, cushions for the boys…when it came down to it, common sense and compassion prevailed, I just couldn’t give my 15 year old and 20 year old a lavender bag each. I have shown no such mercy to my mother and certain friends however. Too bad amigos.

My goddaughter has a little hand painted sketchbook in a bag for all her best 7 year old thoughts (and they be many and wondrous); and here is the long awaited University blanket for our 19 year old daughter – which had been wildly behind schedule – so thanks to my sweet friend Dareth for all her help in getting it finished!

There are other presents, but they must remain secret (as their recipients read my bloggy offerings) and I’d hate to upset the Solstice elfves. I was lucky enough to have my own hand made present too, from the legendary Bad Jo, who made me a bag filled with everything I need to make a gluten free Sour Dough loaf of bread – oh marmite toast, you shall be mine once more…..happiness

So with presents done, there was just enough time for a little bit of a frisky adventure to London with my favourite bad girl and other equally deviant compadres (I clearly mean well behaved and nicely mannered friends) – and all was sparkly, fun and a million miles from that slave driving sewing machine….marvellous

Now I am back home again, in the Solstice time, breathing a little slower now that I know the light is returning. All is quiet and gentle and good.

The stockings are filled, tangerines assembled (love a good tangerine, or mandarin, I’m not fussy) and the tree decorated. It is time to sit back and be cosy, watch the light wherever it may fall in the house.

Let the twinkling time begin…Solstice blessings to you all…thank you for journeying with me down these B roads I seem to be taking, it is such a pleasure to share them with you. It has been a year of oceans, pink wool, awesome friends and the ubiquitous cake of all naughtiness. Love, love.

December 22, 2013   1 Comment

More Mad Crazy

Oooh hello, it’s been a while. You know what it is like around these Stroudie parts – a week can be a long time, with lots of different, unplanned things popping up all over the place.

This week has been about the magic that happens when women get together.

We gathered for our annual opening of our Red Hearth House by the light of the new moon, and danced, drummed, sang and howled with the most witchy of whiskers. 

This is such a special place that we have created, in Kesty and Martin’s beautiful woodland, and it fed my soul once more to be there, with many different wonderful women and all the stories that they bring to weave in with my own.

Oh you mad, crazy week…I didn’t see you coming. But in I leapt, as I knew I would, with my fast beating heart yearning for adventure and change. There have been camp outs, dawn choruses, badgers, burial chambers, axes, art, get togethers, cake, bitey things, and lots and lots of laughing and chit chatting.

It is also the month that Fiona and John Owen throw open their chapel studio doors to let us all have a peek inside at their wonderful, most magical of creations.

If you live anywhere near Gloucestershire, their exhibition is on until 30th June and is breathtaking. You will love it.

And so my week has rolled on, with a daughter learning to skateboard, puzzling over strange pub quiz questions, rainstorms to be caught in, and art students arriving at our house in a lovely impromptu gathering.

And today, Sunday, it ends as it so often begins, with wool, cake and friends – with Prema’s PicKnit in the Park – and as much as I need to collapse on my sofa and rest, I skip along with my pink peace scarf, dodging raindrops, and slide into yet more mad crazy…..

June 16, 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

Beltaine

The dance begins…the land unfolds….the quickening pulses in the green

May I walk the hills with deepening gratitude for a life filled with soulful people. May my steps be light, even on days that weigh heavy, and may I move ever closer to the gift of trust that is being offered to me.

Let me remember to take time to turn my face towards the sunshine of blue skies, when they arrive in this often grey land, and to love the scent of Beltaine blossoms that fly sweetly through my valley

On Beltaine morning, I wish for a renewed and hopeful heart as I pour myself into plans and projects…even when some waned so badly last year, like the successions of my beans that were eaten time and again by snails.

By lemon balm, nettle, mugwort and Lady’s Mantle, may I love all that lives, and give thanks to herbs that heal, teas that soothe, hands that hold

Beltaine love and blessings to all that is seen, all that is unseen, all that is.

April 30, 2013   1 Comment

By the Ocean

:: Blackthorn buds ::

:: Deserted beaches, tooooo raw and cold ::

:: Boardwalks through pine trees ::

:: Boat rigging and other harbour paraphanaelia ::

:: Hazel catkins and dusty yellows ::

:: Early morning creek walk ::

:: Sand dunes and sharp grasses ::

:: Fishing net blues & turquoises ::

:: Driftwood and leopard skin wellies (a wee break from pink, always good) ::

:: Seagulls reminding me I love being by the ocean ::

:: Time with family, how lucky are we ::

:: Looking for spoonbills and curlews in the freshes ::

:: The love of feathers ::

:: Sunset, sunrise at my favourite place in the world ::

:: Wells deli – a good place to be ::

:: Nearest harbour ::

:: Village shop ::

A few days away from our five valleys, and even though we were often numb with cold and huddled around the fire, it was enough to rest, and breathe out, to think and stretch. Dear ocean of the east, I do love you. 

 

 

 

April 10, 2013   No Comments

This is your life, do what you love…..

Welcome to your life, do what you love….oh, ok, so what is it that I love? I love spring for a start – any chance of that rocking up soon in to my valley?? No, thought not.

Although the signs are there – daffodils spotted on my weekly walk around Hawkwood, and the first ruby stalks of rhubarb appearing on our CSA vegetable plot…..but come on, I am itching to peel off my thermals now – I’ve had them on since last October (can anyone even remember as far back as last October or is that just me??)

Well, being the good little community witch that I am, I thought I had better get myself outside for a wee bit of equinoxing this week…try to find a spot of balance emerging in this suddenly crazy world of mine…yeah right…

Hawkwood is so good for this – there is a funny sort of tree house cabin that is used as a meditation space right in the middle of the wooded valley….although I have been a bit too skittish recently for sitting still and contemplating peaceful thoughts – my pink hair is testimony to that, lets face it….but I love the idea of it….

There is also a very lovely natural spring bubbling out of the ground in their gardens – Herb and I always stop by here for a bit of witching and a bit of a drink

Back home then, and maybe it IS time for some meditative contemplation – so this is your life babe – how’s it working out for you??? Well, thanks for asking – you know those lovely white walls I worked so hard on last week? Yup, I remember. How about writing all over them? Splendid idea honey, lets do it….(talking to yourself, never a great sign)

Oh, how much fun can one bad girl and a Rotring have??? Answers on a postcard…

So, this is your life, do what you love and do it often…oh, so good to remember this, especially as this long, long winter draws hopefully to a close. You know what I love? I love all the photographs that I take – hundreds of them, sometimes up to a thousand a month, of people, places, knitting, my garden, oh you know well enough by now what my camera gets up to. Only right then, that I put some of my favourite pictures, and of course my favourite people, up on those lovely white and waiting walls.

Because life really is about the people you meet, and the magic you create with them. And whilst this winter may feel long, actually this life is very short. Not a moment to be wasted then.

I have to tell you that these words are not mine – they are from an advert for skin care products, believe it or not, that have been stuck to my fridge for a long time. But I like them, and they felt right enough to be penned up more permanently. And there is a lot more to come – that’s one big bit of wall I have travelling up the stairway. Just as well that I have piles and piles of photos ready and waiting, and so many more to take in this mad life of mine.

All in all I may just have inadvertently found some equinox balance this week. A need to escape out into the world, yes, but an anchor at home, remembering that right now my life is here, with its schedules and work and people.

But it is good. It is full. And springtime will come. That alone is enough to make a girl really quite perky.

March 22, 2013   2 Comments

Mists of time

What would you say to me, I asked her.

I would say, keep going, be different, do the work, make the changes you need to make. Your daughter in 2012 is depending on it.

This is a tale with no beginning and therefore no end, like the layers of mist that wove it. These mist sisters were suddenly just there – and surely too she never saw the moment that they were gone forever.

There once was a woman who lived between the mists of time. No one had ever seen her and indeed she herself wondered if she was even there, in the layers of grey and in the turn of the years.

I asked you if you believed in her, this not-quite-there woman of mists. “Of course” you said – “she brought me to you.” You might have thought she wore cobwebs, so fine was the cloth that fell about her in the pale morning light. But no, it was the dawn breaking around her in fine threads – dew drops trailing behind her, sighing…on that morning that was to change everything I knew about the world.

They had journeyed together many times, over many lifetimes. Always was it so. But always they forgot, and had to once more begin over – back on the road that would lead them to each other once again. At these times the mist woman would wrap her shrouds of grey around them, as a mother would a child, and they would be held in her mists and veils of time, held in remembering.

There was a young woman whose wild landscape may not have had the fables and myth that she wanted it to have. She hadn’t seen the jungle wet with rain, or planted her bare feet in the warm red earth of a foreign land as the sun rose in the East. She hadn’t stood and shouted her defiances with sisters. But there was something that she had. She had the magic seeds of transformation, of change, planted in the richest brown earth in the fields of her mind.

But at that time the young woman didn’t know what treasure she held secretly inside her, and she hadn’t yet remembered the one with which she always journeyed.

The mist woman knew this. She parted those grey veils that hid time, just enough so that we could reach our precious hands through to that young girl, so lost and crushed. Those hands were these – a sister, a faery godmother, a daughter and myself.

Hands, those most precious of story keepers. We held her up, that young woman. Our hands folded into hers, gently moving her towards a different landscape, the true, wild, season-turning landscape that was waiting for her.

She felt us, and though she wouldn’t know us for many years yet, her young ears trusted our voices that whispered to her from a place in time where she was healed and whole.

And that is where this story trails off and is lost to these mists of time.

For there is no real beginning – and the end? It is yet to be written….

February 26, 2013   No Comments

V Day

“The greatest thing your’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return” – so begins one of my favourite films, Moulin Rouge. Following hot on the heels of Imbolc and pancake day is Valentines Day – o.k, I know, its a horrible Hallmark commercial nightmare….but love! Oh, its really the only thing that counts, isn’t it?

It is true that love may ‘weave strangely’ and we all have twists and turns in the journeys we make towards finding it. Who do we love and why? And how? So in the run-up to this love fest, my hands were busy with making little pieces of thank-yous for people I love, felted hellos for new sisters, hidden paintings for old ones.

There is close to home love, happening right here, where I am.

And then there is an ‘out in the world’ love, of a different kind. For Valentines Day has just been reclaimed by women. It is now V Day. 

One Billion Rising, started by Eve Ensler 14 years ago, is the most amazing call to women and men across the planet to rise up and use our collective strength and solidarity across the borders to refuse to accept violence against women and girls

One in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. One billion women violated is an atrocity. One Billion women dancing is a Revolution.

Yes, it seems that hearts, flowers and chocolates are no longer going to cut it around here…time to get out the paint and step into a more proactive and vocal land of love…

And so what of this feminist tsunami? It is one women’s vision to dance an end to the violence, to shake the earth into awareness. Well, I am with her. And so too, millions of others today, across this wonderful earth of ours, in all its colourful diversity.

Did Stroud rise with the thousands of other cities, towns, and villages across the planet? You bet your red and black t-shirts and wiggling hips it did! We are Stroudies, we ‘do’ protest and drumming and mad dancing, and loud singing. And we do it well.

So this Valentines Day – this fabulous V Day – I have told my special loves that I love them, I have loved my friends, and danced and sung among the community I love, in the town that I love and call home. But most of all, my heart has almost burst with the thought of the love of sisters I will never know, but am willing to stride out for, to speak up for. Know that we see you, that you will never be alone with this. We will not stop until the day you are safe.

Together we are stronger.

February 14, 2013   4 Comments