Inhale, exhale: sometimes that’s hard to do, because dodgy lungs run in my family; on both sides. So that this thing breathing, is something some of us struggle to do. Soon after my father died when I was seven, my own asthma arrived. So that I start waking around 2am in the morning, with a full blown asthma attack. And every night, my mother would sit there with me, soothing me with her voice and letting me know that no matter how long it took – and this I understood not from the words that she said, but from the feeling that I got from her body and the way that she sat there steady and soft – that she would be there for me, for as long as it took, until I could breathe again and fall asleep.
And in doing so, my mother gave to me that thing we all crave, whether we’re child or adult: presence. And yet I think we get confused sometimes and think oh maybe we’re not enough, so off we go and buy someone something, thinking yes it’s a present they want, not me, yes it’s the present they want, or maybe two or three.
Years later, when I was around 27 years old, to the question: what would you like for your birthday? I said I’d love for my mother and brother to accompany me on a Vipassana course, in 6 months in their UK centre in Wales. The lead in was so that they had time to prepare themselves and if need be pull out, or dive in. Thankfully, they chose the later. Read More
Today is Christmas Day and yet outside, daffodils have pushed through the mud and are coming into bloom. Perhaps, when they've done so, they'll be a little confused. There not being too many other flowers about.
Three days ago, on 22nd December it was Winter Solstice. Six months prior to that it was the Summer solstice. All normal and dandy, except the two this year shared something more then the word 'solstice' - both solstice's were exactly the same temperature.
So that now, at a time when they are normally woozling underneath a frozen earth, worms are finding themselves slurpring and slooping over hulks of soaking wet mud instead. There are even new leaves appearing on the branches of trees. In the woods whole branches have even fully sprouted, so that the half of the trees that are shrouded in the darkness of the woods are still bare, but the half exposed to the path, to the sun, are green once more. Despite having only just said good bye to the last cropping of leaves. It seems us humans, relent on never resting ourselves, are imposing our ways onto nature, in ever more ingenius ways. Read More
Firstly, may I wish you all the most magical and precious Winter Solstice. Today is a precious day. May it cause all our hearts to open courageously.
Secondly... I am so grateful that you subscribe to this blog. Your support means so much to me! THANK YOU!
And so, here's my latest story, if you like it, please do share with friends and family.
Here's to a joyful Christmas for everyone. And may 2016 be our bravest most kindest year yet.
I once lived in an apartment, on Ladbroke Grove in London.
There were 3 rooms, 4 if you counted the small loo by the front door, the seat of which was permanently broken. It was cosy. It was warm; it was a good home. I slept some of my deepest sleeps there, meditated with friends there, danced alone in the sitting room there and set up a company that lasted a year there.
It was also the place that Monday Meditations were born, which meant that every Sunday, I’d send out an email to anyone I knew, who either already meditated, had definitely mentioned an interest in it, or was perhaps, potentially thinking about it saying tomorrow: my door’s open, please come. Lets meditate. Read More
I’m sitting here, at my desk, on a dark cloudy November afternoon. Little Human is asleep and the dogs are sprawled out, wherever sprawling has lead them. The house, is otherwise empty. To the left of my computer, is a glass of vegetable broth and to my right, a tumbler of red wine. Read More
However, despite the initial persuasiveness of the wine, (it’ll be such fun! Drink!), it was a promise with a tepid life span. In fact, it collapsed quite soon after first emerging. In other words, when faced with wine or broth, I’m going with the broth...
Playing with Little Human the other day. A puzzle. 10 pieces. Not many, but enough.
Here’s the thing with puzzles. You spread all the pieces on the floor. They’re all there. You find the first piece, look for the second. So far: every things going well. The second piece and the first piece look made for each other. What could go wrong?
And so with an exuberant confidence, you glide the second piece to the first, you see how they’re going to fit and you feel that glee of joy at the inevitableness of that fit. And then it happens. The fit doesn’t happen. You try again, because hey, it’s so clear right? This piece and that piece, they’re made for each other. I mean the first even has the number ‘1’ on it, and the second ‘2.’ And this one has holes and this one has prongs and the prongs so clearly, go into these holes.
Except they don’t. Read More
There's nothing like thinking you're the only one, only to have this wonderful thought quickly rebuffed.
"You drive me mad." I say to boyfriend.
"You drive me madder." He replies.
But the thing is, as far as life and the people in it are teaching me, when we struggle with something in another, we're really struggling with what it reminds us of what we've repressed in ourselves.
In other words, the part in me that is being driven mad by boyfriend, could just be a messenger wanting to tell me something, but my ego is a bit worried an’ all, so instead of welcoming it in and making it a cup of tea saying, well then: tell me ALL. It’s sort of hissing at it:
Go…I'm fine, just as I am. Don't need no changing!
And then it does this sort of mad merry dance:
I am what I am! It declares. And I’ll stay as I stay! Feeling very pleased with itself that it’s sent away whatever it felt threatened by.
The only thing about that, is that it’s a very lonely place to be… Read More
There is a place in France, north of the Pyrenees. This area of the world has more beautiful villages clusters closely together then any other place in the world. Which is not too dissimilar to how boyfriend and I found ourselves this one weekend in October.
We arrived Thursday. Lateish. Greeted by Herve who owns the hotel that we're staying in with his wife Sophie. Supper is ham, thick chewy Serano ham.
I sit on the sofa eating this salty ham, thinking of pigs as I eat. I think of an article I read once that stated these animals have the intelligence of a 5 year old child. I hold the ham in both hands, silent and eating - my taste buds are weeping because it tastes so damn good. I'm starving. Famished. I eat slice after slice. Inwardly I'm rejoicing and apologising simultaneously. Not in shame but perhaps minor conflict. But it's not enough to detract from the great joy that comes with eating this incredible slice of meat.
I've a hippy mind perhaps, but a carnivores body. Read More
Little Human, dog and I have started visiting churches. Partly because generally wherever we go there are 3 of us and our options as a trio are limited...And given the UK’s mono climate of rain, churches offer us a place to be: where the imagination of Little Human can run wild, where dog can stretch out and sleep and where I can sit in a pew and write. And yes we could leave dog alone in the house but personally that doesn’t seem entirely fair, so it's churches.
Luckily they’re wonderful places to hang out in. Read More
Denmark is consistently reported as being home to the happiest people on the Planet. Given that most of us have a mild obsession with happiness we have a question for the Danes: how? Read More
Luckily Happiness spawns industry and so we can now buy guide-books that help us all learn how to be happier. One of these is sitting on our book-shelf here at The Naughty Nunnery The Danish Way of Parenting: A Guide To Raising The Happiest Kids in the World.
And yes the title may be a little too aggressively marketed at all of us happy deprived folk, but its got some good stuff in there.
I've only read a little bit, but a little bit had a lot in it. So two things:
The Danes are good at reframing. A child doesn't want to eat a meal this doesn't mean they're picky or Oh God I’ve got a bad eater, it simply means the parents need to put it into context. Did they have a snack beforehand? Are they tired? Anxious?
The other point I liked and loved and then went and updated my whole bookshelf as a result of (mild exaggeration) is that the Danes are down with the blues. That is to say that one of the reasons they're so happy is because they're not afraid to be unhappy.
Sometimes we don't get far. At times, our front door doesn’t even open.
The back door does though and so out we go, into our garden; home to a re-wilding project that is ravaging in ernest. So that through our unmown lawn, roses have emerged from nowhere, which of course at some point must have been a somewhere, a wild orchid has come through, plumes of ragwort and tufts of ferns and dandelions and the white fluffy plant that you blow at to set the fairies free. The threshold of our garden is a thick boarder of blackberry bushes. The flies have got to most of the juciest first. We are not too disappointed.
But sometimes the neurotic mother in me spins out: we must go somewhere! She harps. We must do something! She shrills. And so dog and daughter are hoarded into the car and off we go to the land of something.
But sometimes Little Human sort of whistles at the neurotic mother and another part of me whispers: but what is wrong with here? Everyone is content where they are…And so Little Human and I pick up a bucket and head off with dog and go and look for blackberries. Finding ourselves climbing over the fence at the bottom of the garden and finding some worms instead.
Of course life isn’t a constant and so I don’t always feel at ease in our home environment. Sometimes the tiredness blows me so off centre that all I want is to be totally alone. A mother bear in her cave.