I once met a friend of my father's who looked at me a little quizzically and then with a big smile pointed to the belt he was wearing and said, “He gave me this, your father.” I stared at it not knowing what to say. Part of me wanted to touch the belt, know the belt and hear more about the belt for have only 4 possessions left of my father’s: a chess set and a small sculptor made out of whale bone that Inuit clients of his gave to him after he represented them when he was a lawyer working in Alaska, a pink Hawaiian shirt and a book of Oscar Wilde’s stories that he gave me, with the inscription: “For when my imagination runs dry, love Daddy.” So anything else that may have been his takes on a slightly awesome quality should someone say your dad did this. Stories and memories included.Read More
As a child I would fall asleep listening to the sound of the waves pummelling the shore but 20metres away from my bedroom window. Opening the window at night, so that I could hear those waves was a ritual that made my heart soar.Read More
There are heart makers and heart breakers.
I met a wonderful heart maker in Guatemala a wee while ago in 2003. I was staying at a yoga camp beside Lake Atitlan, this huge globe of a lake: calm in the morning, temperamental in the afternoon. And though I forget the exact moment that Ugly and first I met, the memory of her still oscillates around in my chest. In fact, I think there is an Ugly nubdule in me, so that I only need to think of her name and something in me softens…Read More
Last weekend I danced…
I danced in the company of women and I danced in a place I adore.
I danced all alone and I danced with others, feeling supported in a way I’ll remember.
I learnt and appreciated more the stories that we all carry in our veins and in the blood that dances in them: of our ancestors and of what it is to be a woman.
I find the dance* floor to be a healing place and here are my 9 reasons why.Read More
#throwingthenetopen and posting a poem today, after a run in the park this morning…
A moment earlier
Underneath the gold Buddha.
Rain cascading like an abandoned tap
A leaf pirouetting through the sky.
Moments like this
It’s the light that does it.
That’s doing it.
Inside can’t help but respond.
As I sit here underneath the gold Buddha
A lady and her dog nearby.
I look at the trees
And their old leaves
My bottom perched on cold stone
Will it get cold I think
As I sit here
Underneath the gold Buddha
Waiting for the rain to pass by.
Life happens in links. Today I was reminded of that. This is my latest post.
Ever since I was a kid I have been fascinated by dreams.
When I was at boarding school from the age of 11, my favourite time of day was breakfast. To sit at a table and have an hour of unfettered dream time. For me this was the stuff of bliss.
Years later when I was serving on a Vipassana course I was in triple heaven, not only was I learning how to meditate and be a part of a team from whom I learnt so much, but rules were slightly broken (you’re not meant to speak during these courses, even when you’re cooking for 150) because over breakfast in the morning, after the students had eaten we would sit and go over our dreams, offering each other interpretations of what certain things could mean. That time still sits in my heart.
Can We Understand Ourselves Better?
On Tuesday a new book arrived that a family friend had recommended to me. This is a friend my mother had put me in touch with after I drove her bonkers of one too many mornings of “Did you dream ma?’ and “What do you think this means?” Exasperated, my mother put me in touch with a family friend who interprets dreams and thus started about a decade of sporadic email correspondence where I finally was able to send my dreams to this woman and receive clear answers that helped me address blocks in my life. (Work in process)
The Dream Book: Symbols for Self Understanding is a book that this family friend had suggested to me recently. It’s taken me a while to order but finally I order the book and it arrives and I flip through and there’s a section on common dreams and I read the bit about snakes because snakes are kind of fascinating to me. (They actually used to freak the hell out of me. My mother once sent me a book on snakes to try and help me get over them. The plan backfired, on seeing that there are so many serpents on this planet my fear catapulted into a phobia extreme).
I have actually only ever seen two snakes in the wild and both were at home in the country in England in West Sussex. One, an adder seeking shelter from torrential rain by the front door who we all peered at and watched whilst eating our lunch and the other a jet black snake, slightly longer, who I watched one baking hot summer’s day sweep elegantly across the end of the drive, the safety of the car giving me the luxury to indulge my fascination; eyes wide, watching this unfamiliar sight pass by in front of me.
Life works in links
So on Tuesday night I went to sleep and dreamt of being bitten by a snake on my left thigh and I wake in the morning and I am thinking about what is the meaning of the left thigh? What is the meaning of the left thigh?
So I don’t come to any answers and two days later I am in a meeting and the lady I am speaking with mentions some somatic based therapy work that she did, the tenant of which was that just by moving our bodies we can change the way we feel and think. She mentions how in one session her therapist mentioned a movement in her left thigh and suggested the relevance of this in relation to the work they were doing. Now I don’t know if this was something that specifically happened, or it was an example that just came to her, which she shared to illustrate a point, but the timing for me was stunning.
Even though I have only met this lady 30minutes beforehand, something in me says it’s okay, trust, so I #throwthenetopen and mention the dream I had to her, in the context of how damn cool is this? The information I have been looking for – you have just brought to me. Spontaneously!
And she smiles and we move on chatting more about the awesomeness of life. How we live on a planet where what we seek is there, how everything around us can impart information, and I listen to her. A wise lady whose insights are bringing clarity to some clouds in my own thinking.
And now it’s a Wednesday night and it’s black outside in the garden. But here in this room I write in, there’s light all around. Life’s a mystery, for me that seems quite sure. But every now and again people, places and things come along to #throwthenetopen and articulate and translate experiences that seem a little foreign to me.
Hands come together. A prayer escapes. And a heart goes bumpity bump.
Have a good night everyone,
Earlier, my keys headed off in a direction different to the one I needed them to be in. I grumbled, I blamed, I cussed and I cursed. Me temper went foul, me temper went bad. And then with a little help from life, things started to change, and something oh dear what can the matter be, shattered as the sky roared delight. This is my latest post…
Whilst waiting for the cab that would bring my keys back to me, I took my daughter out to supper to a restaurant where I’ve wanted to take her a while. Evie enjoyed the space and the long staircase down to the loos, where she could run around and sing. But supper was a non event. So after two attempts at eating a good and filling supper we ended up under the jet black sky playing hide and seek whilst eating sugar infested banana cake. After about a 50min wait, the cab arrived. I asked the driver if he would take us over the bridge.
‘I can’t take you over,’ he said. So I think of pleading because it’s nudging 7pm and it’s cold and I worry because Eve’s tired, will the walk home be hell? And I don’t want her to get cold crossing, as sometimes it can be windy but I give in and give up and pay the taxi and start our journey home.
At the end of the street there is this man with his bike walking on the pavement in front of us really really slowly whilst speaking on his phone and I feel all frustrated as I can’t walk past him and then at the lights he and another man take a short cut across the street, which as I have the buggy I can’t do.
A moment later our little McLaren zooms to life and my daughter, pram and I do a mother daughter version of a James Bond car stunt when the car flips to one side to manoeuvre an impossible oh darn heck I didn’t see that kind of manoeuvre coming and Eve and I skiaddle past these two folk who have no idea they’ve been pitted as imagined competitors in a race they didn’t know even know was happening.
But I am in that kind of mood and on passing them I feel a mild sense of victory, ah ha! Then I’m walking over the bridge and I’m going pretty slow so the guys probably end up over taking me anyway because I’m distracted by the lights all around us and the spectacle that is Albert Bridge on a November night and after all it’s not any night, it’s Guy Fawkes night and my daughter loves the river and I’m thinking shall I stop so we can look at the lights and then I worry that all the people in the passing traffic will think I’m some crazy mother who’s incredibly irresponsible stopping on the bridge and then I think oh this is baloney and I stop and park the pram and crouch down to point the river out to Evie through the portals in the bridge who strains to go closer, to see more so I lift my daughter out of the pram into my arms and stand and we look at the river and the moon just one day away from being full and London looks extraordinary.
And then fireworks start zooming and booming in the air around us and Eve and I swirl around and I say bubba bubba can you see the fireworks through the trees, pointing at a tree behind where a multicoloured wizardry of fireworks illuminate the sky around us. Pink ones! Red ones! Green ones! And I look at my daughters face to see if she can see them and her face is this pure depiction of awe and after a little while the fireworks stop and Evie’s little voice whispers ‘more…’ And then more fireworks start zittering through the sky in the other direction towards the east, soon joined by others in the north and the moon looms high in the south east and aeroplanes and helicopters soar above us and stars twinkle and Eve watches her first fireworks and my heart is singing and wow, we almost missed this.
And so thank you thank you thank you taxi man for not taking us across the river… Andthank you thank you to everything else that contributed to this moment happening right now.
‘Fireworks everywhere!’ Delights Eve.
And whilst I point some more out, a couple walk past us, turning around to watch them too and strangers stroll by and I look in their eyes and we smile, the sweetness of the moment giving me confidence and they smile and that’s such a sweet lovely thing: to share a moment of appreciation with a stranger, to be standing on this bridge that has always touched my heart for some reason, to have my daughter in my arms in the midst of all this movement and light and splendour. Joggers and men and women returning from walking their dogs in the park pass us by, as do others coming home from work and this is a moment that I think I will remember for a while: the time my daughter saw fireworks. And maybe it feels more special as on Saturday night, the night that most places celebrate Guy Fawkes, I’m out with a friend and have been feeling guilty that I would be missing the chance to take Evie to see the fireworks, but here now we’re seeing them together.
This is my favourite fireworks night ever I say to Eve.
With a joy that came a dancin,’ life welcoming it through.
And when the fireworks stop we walk on over the bridge and then swivel around and watch again as some more crackle and boom behind us. And the view is even better here, because what was hidden before is now clear and brilliant and bright.
And I bend down again to see my daughter, her little open face imprinted on my heart, as we stand by the foot of the moon and this river that swells and sinks so eternally. A gift that seems as ephemeral as a whisper I heard in the beat of my heart. But blessed with a day and a name.
Happy Guy Fawkes everyone,
So here I am trying to throw the net open on my life and learn to trust and sometimes… completely missing the point. Here is my latest post.
There was a woman who I used to buy my vegetables from who had a knack for infusing a sentence with a more endearments then the sky has clouds. One time I counted about 6 in as little as 2 sentences: ‘ello darlin’, nice to see you cuttiepie, everything alright sweet’art? Okay you look after yourself deary, enjoy the food lovely and see you next time ma love…
As she said all of this, she never once looked me in the eyes. I don’t mention this to criticse her, I say this because well she could be me: so focused on the task at hand I miss the human standing in front of me, or rather so focused on anything at hand because I just can’t be still enough to really be with the person in front of me. Especially when I know that that person sees that I am distracting myself, in order not to be with them.
Ai yi yi.
So this is what I am trying to throw the net open on in my life at the moment: to slow down so that I can be present in those precious moments of spontaneous connection with others.
Although here’s the thing with trying. Even with best intentions sometimes things can be hard to change.
And then I read something last night that gave me a much needed afflatus! It was from Machaelle Small Wright’s book Behaving As If The God In All Things Mattered: A New Ecology where she describes an experience of meeting someone who gave her some pretty golden guidance. The lady mirrored back to her that it was her “frantic desire to know, to obtain knowledge about this new world of the unseen…” that was “blocking” her. So what did Machaelle need to do in order for all that that she was trying to learn to come? “…relax and trust that everything would simply flow…”
And so here I am trying trying trying and sometimes totally missing the mark! And then there is that some of the things here are being really helpful for me! So I am heeding Rachel Kelly’s advise that she gave when I chatted with her a couple of weeks ago and I’m going to relax and “be gentle with (myself).” Hey I might even try some patience.
For there is something for me about trusting life that is undeniably challenging. Okay some moments, ridiculously unfathomable in others.
But well, that’s really where it is for me right now. To be able to look into the eyes of another without rushing away, to be able to feel the nervousness in me and instead of throwing in a bunch of words and la di da’isms to distract us both away from the shared intimacy at hand, stay there and be with that person.
The thing is this is a big thing for me. I have to really bring my awareness to moments like because it can take a quick flick of the head and then I’ve missed that moment – the moment someone was reaching out to connect with me, and actually in a way that I love extraordinarily without words, but because I got flighty, I missed it. For as one of the characters in The Fantoozles said “words are too wordy you see, and sometimes, somethings need someplace else.”
And so it is that for this weekend I am taking things as gentle as a cobweb.
Have a lovely weekend everyone,
I had plans for Monday. Then on Sunday I forgot to do something I needed to do in order for those plans to happen. As a result Monday unfolded in a way unlike the way I had imagined. But hey ho, sometimes, loosing a plan ain’t a bad thing, this is my latest post…Read More
Sometimes I am so busy yearning for something – community, nature – that I miss the moments life brings these things to me now. This happens a lot! This post is about my daughter Eve encouraging me to step out in the garden and enjoy the rain that pours i.e. #throwingthenetopen on my getting old curmudgeonly ways!
If you are reading this in the sunny October climate that is the UK you will know that we are now entering a period where for 98.9% of the time for the next 7 months, potentially 8 if May 2015 is a right off like this year, it’s going to be raining.
The skies will be grey. The streets will be grey. Oh it’s a sorry business indeed.
And well here I am moaning about wanting to live somewhere more immersed in nature and where where my daughter can play outside and our dog Bongo can live with us and then well it’s raining, and ummm you don’t expect me to go outside when it’s raining?
Luckily for me I have a daughter called Eve and thank god Eve and her garden like to hang out with each other – even when the clouds roll and rain pours. And even when her mum is in a grump.
One person’s paradise…
I drove to my mother’s last Saturday purely so that Eve and I could have some time outside and hang out with my mother’s donkeys and shetlands – Toggles, Zoltie, Smokey Joe and Mikey. Or as Evie likes to call them “my friends.”
We got there and did some hanging out on Saturday and then on Sunday it rained. Really rained so staying inside seemed like a good enough place to be. Until Eve said “‘orses mama.” And I looked outside and inwardly moaned and then lamely offered some other alternatives. She was not to be dissuaded.
And then that awesome phrase “there is no bad weather, only bad clothes” slung itself into my mind and so we went and got dressed properly and I remembered being young and adaptable and devoted and no matter the weather just wearing whatever clothes suited the outside mood, so that I could spend as long as possible with my pony Whiskey.
And then Eve and I clambered outside and it felt good. Really good. And we walked slowly, with Eve taking in the torrential rain with a sense of hmmm this is cool. And an hour later, or maybe more as I lost a sense of time, we returned – stinking and wet and muddy – in fact I think when we took our clothes off steam shot out and whirled into the air. For there is something about waterproofs that likes to keep that body heat a swirling around.
Our hands and boots were filthy brown with dirt and mud and the odd parts of us that the rain had found access to were sodden – a bit of trouser, a partially exposed bit of jumper around a wrist. But our hearts were elated (Eve chatted excitedly about what we had been up to) and something danced in my body that I haven’t felt for a while – life!
To be out in the rain with my daughter poo picking and herding the donkeys and horses with twigs we found scattered with the leaves in the garden. To be pulling bulging globes of pears from the trees and wrenching courgettes the size of small pigs from the rich deep soil, phwrrrroah mother nature she’s got our happiness in the bag. And all we got to do, is just go and dance with her – whenever, if ever we can. Actually if I were to pinpoint the exact point when my heart soared and the whole experience got orgasmically delicious this was it: the pulling of the forgotten overgrown vegetables from the earth. The tangible deliciousness of their roots being tenderly ripped from their source rippling through the cells of my body. Yowzah!
When Eve and I came back to the house with arm loads of beetroot and swedes and fennel and green leaves and spinach and courgettes it was with a feeling of having found the treasure at the bottom of the rainbow. (Did I say Rainbow? How can I not mention a most special rainbow indeed – please check out me chatting with the brilliant journalist and author Rachel Kelly about her experience with depression here – which she wrote about in her book Black Rainbow).
And that’s it really – what I wanted to write about this week. The bliss that a rain cloud can bring. Earth stuffed fingers and a heart soaring. So here I am reminding myself of the sheer beauty that happens when I #throwthenetopen on my comfort zone of oh christ here comes the dodgy weather, and realise that every cloud doesn’t need to come with a silver lining, a grey one is as good as gold.