Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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A fresh start

Summer closing berries dripping in glistening bunches, brandy and honey and spices and  bottles of syrup and winter medicine. New routines, new rhythms…the late summer sun mellowing the land. Ripe tomatoes, fragrant basil scarlet rosehips.

New projects with children, plant dyes, boiling and fermenting wise woman brews steaming the windows and acrid tang of simmering roots.

Back home and into autumn. Back from a summer of retreat from the internet hot earth under bare feet wet canvas  singing campfires, damp  cabins in a green Welsh valley far from home. Evenings to sit and write and read, play card games and drink tea, sheepskins and hissing logs.

Away from screens that dull and hypnotise, the screens that also connect us all and sparkle with jewels of inspiration, information, ideas. The screens that lead me astray down meandering paths which infinitely divide and leave me with a vague sense of bloat and unease.

I haven’t missed it and I have. Through the internet I have connected with people from everywhere.  Weeping shown fragments of my soul to people I have not met naked words bare of polished gloss and finish.

I write here in this space and want to write more. I have painted, written and shared with women from New Mexico to Singapore , I have been invigorated and encouraged by so much.

But this summer I left for two weeks with the children  to voice camp, and later to the tiny Welsh cabin. Campfire songs and cold showers, harebells and buzzards, no phone, no texts, no internet. My voice joined others as I sang and my tears wet the ground and the shoulders of friends who comforted me. Skin touch, the whisper in my ear the smile and glance the connection, the sweetness of warm chai and fire grilled aubergine, earthy real sensuous. Its a different connection.

I do value them all.

Sometimes I  wish away the internet, and feel a deep yearning for a return to the simplicity and spaciousness of a time before my head was filled with so much, before my time was swallowed in such large cyber mouthfuls. But I would find it hard to exist without it. And I know its there. And I don’t want to miss out!!

Actually I didn’t want to talk about the internet but about autumn and new beginnings.

I wasn’t planning to home ed again. It was always supposed to be temporary. A baby, other ambitions, need for time to write, to be, to paint, it all seemed too much. But  circumstances have decided otherwise and I may start a home ed blog to discuss them all and the reasons we are now committing to keeping the three younger children at home, at least for the time being.

I am trying not to do everything. I have found childcare for at least one and a half days. Its important. I have such a strong fire to create, such a lust to express the words and images which flow through me, that it is essential for my family’s well being for me to have time to do this.

Its too easy to be bottom of the pile for me. Too easy to end up lying on the big bed upstairs with my body pinned to the mattress by feeding babies and affectionate children. Its lovely and soft and snuggly and adorable and nourishing…but only if I’ve had  an hour to paint, an hour to write, an hour to share with a friend, an hour to plant seeds and gather herbs, time to stretch and remind myself that indeed I do have a body and it is actually mine. (Hmm easy to forget that one)

If these things are in short supply, or if they are nonexistent, I feel starved and desperate crabby and cross and my warm mothering arms become sharp elbows and I am like a buzzing naked wire, charged and dangerous. (I don’t mean literally obviously, before someone calls Social Services!) I FEEL like that . I want to run away and feel the north wind in my hair and a wide open road ahead of me wild and exciting and Free. With some really nice cafes and notebooks along the way. And circles of friends to talk deep and challenging and share the howling grief and the star spinning laughter and the grainy beautiful truth.

So.

I’m being firmer about childcare.

I’ve joined a beautiful circle of women, a deeply held ceremonial sharing space of wild hedgerow medicine and elemental prayers and love.

I’m painting for my first exhibition IN TEN DAYS (did I already mention that?)

I’m remembering I have a body and having occasional treatments and regular stretching and …well I haven’t managed the candle lit bath yet but its on my list.

I’m joining a writing group in the flesh…

Green smoothies…seriously they rock…breakfast, sets me up for the day.

Love remember love. It sorts most stuff out. Smooths resentment shoulds woulds crabbiness. Easier said than done. Trying to remember.

That’s it for now, except yesterday would have been Lily’s 13th birthday and I want to write something for her but don’t want to mix her up with the internet and autumn and all this so she’s next for sure . Always

Love Henrietta x

Ps. Any self care sharing? Any new autumnal routines and changes in your lives?

In ten days some of my paintings will be on show in a local cafe. My first tiny exhibition.

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Tender green shoots

Spending time with myself, sniffling and feverish despite RAW garlic and dropperfuls of echinacea, and super green drinks and abundant vegeatables and snatched times on the sofa with hot honey and lemon and miso broth. Cross none of this staved off the fluey state which has felled each of us in turn, fighting uneasy guilty feelings about loosing the homescholing reins on the kids. Running slightly feral around the grounds and tripping back breathless and hatless to lay their cool cheeks against mine. Chilled, pearly and smooth as a mushroom skin fresh and dewy in the field.

Grumpy, dumpy and suffering some strange unidentified pregnancy related discomfort which has slowed my walking to a shuffling waddle, from too much manure shifting at a school work day on Saturday I have no doubt.
Luckily I love my sofa, tucked next to the woodburner and being alone on it with a hot water bottle and a book.

The homeschooling  reins have already loosened, by necessity, for sure, by moving four times, by the fire, by me slowly realising that recreating a model Steiner kindergarten and class 1 (simultaneously) in my own home is not entirely necessary for my kids educational success and emotional well being, especially the latter. And which is more important?

Conditioning so hard to unravel, years in school, state and Steiner, national curriculum, literacy levels expected of six year olds, …Local Authority home school inspector…’hm hmm I can see they’re very active and busy but what about formal literacy and numeracy provision?’  Are they happy, do they want to learn, are they emotionally well balanced and nourished……no boxes to tick.

Oh! it’s such a journey for me to come face to face with all my feelings of guilt, inadequacy, is this enough, am I enough, should I be doing this shouldn’t I be doing that. Am I singing enough nature songs and is Tansy’s knitting coming on well enough? (Steiner) Are my home grown fairy tales good enough? Does it matter that Tansy can’t read yet? (Nat. curriculum)
Are they  happy?
Does she make beautiful little books about babies, does Leo hoe and dig his own garden and collect the eggs every morning?
Do they cook soup when I am ill and brush my hair?
Do they make candles and sew pincushions and dolls and bake bread?
Are they learning about living in a community considering others needs and differences, working and playing with other adults and children, sharing food and resources and opinions?
Do they know how to build and tend a fire, catch a fish, pluck a chicken? Well yes!!

You see I’m just trying to convince myself!
Last week I had been feeling particularly negligent as we had only squeezed in one writing session for Tansy (I  follow the Steiner class one pattern of telling an ongoing fairy tale, in our case ‘Molly and Sam and the magic Mountains’, and having Tansy write a sentence about the days story in her book accompanied by a picture) One session….ooh! Nursing first Fred, then Tansy and lastly Leo..now me through the fevers precluded  extensive writing work….

But on Saturday we felted.

It was the Steiner school work day, and among many jobs, including the manure spreading which reduced me to my shuffling waddle, was a giant community felting project in the hall. Partly to improve the acoustics and partly as a beautiful reminder of the seasons rhythms, we started the first of four felted wall hangings, depicting spring, summer, autumn and winter. Almost a flock of sheep fleeces were laid out, and we teased, carded chatted, splashed warm soapy water about , danced on it the huge felt picture, crawled on it, marched singing on it, and wrapped it in bubblewrap and rolled it up and down outside. Bit by bit the wool felted and soon it will be ready for the more delicate and intricate details to be needle felted on, and hung on the wall.
The children watched, teased, ran about, squirted water on the felt, rested, stamped and rubbed the felt about, sang laughed, got wet socks
So happy for Tansy and Leo to be part of a community afternoon and to witness adults working joyfully together, creating beauty. Not the all too common sight of a parent struggling alone resentfully trying to do too much without support.
That’s what I want them to be learning about!


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New beginnings and gratitude

First, cascades of love and gratitude to the lovely Lucinda at Whispering Earth who, on reading of the fire, emailed me to offer support and herbs to replace some of the ones I lost. A couple of weeks ago, a special parcel arrived, containing soothing herb teas, a delicious rose scented moisturizing cream, some tinctures and a mysterious oil whose true purpose will become clear as this post progresses. It was such a generous and lovely gift. I am still overwhelmed by the love and kindness of friends, those nearby, and those I have never met! Thankyou so much.

The snow drops are blooming bravely in swathes around the grounds of our new home, promising so tantilisingly the coming of softer Spring weather. In the talons of the east wind, its hard to forget this, and in the chilly outreaches of our new home we shiver with blankets and hot water bottles. It’s not a cosy cabin, its the wing of a mansion, but we have one warm room which we cook in, knit in, play in, paint in, hang out in, and we are very happy to be here, despite the bone numbing chill.

Around us are acres of beautiful grounds, walled veg gardens, polytunnels, children (and other adults) to play with, community meals and choirs to attend, …even our chickens have settled, integrating with the existing flock and laying boxes and boxes of eggs.
We’ve joined a community, a few miles from our land, and, after our three months in town, are feeling the healing balm of being again surrounded by trees, green plants, growing space, room to run without fear of cars and streets, the balm of being with others.

More later about our new home  because there is more excitement….

More beginnings.
New tender shoots sprouting
A phoenix rising from the ashes.
Springtime promises of a growing,  swelling, surging Mother Earth…….
and well, me.

I’m half way to growing a new baby. 20 weeks in and getting quite a belly, soft little kicks, and jeans that don’t fit, and morning sickness nearly passing……number 5…phew!
How did I ever think 2013 was going to be a quiet, calm year?

And the oil from Lucinda?