Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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Wednesday gratitude

This week I am grateful for….

Nettle risotto, the first of the year, with fresh nettles and wild garlic…so delicious.

Planting seeds, basil, lettuce, hyssop, dill, echinacea…… the promise of healing to come.

Finch in the polytunnels, playing for the first time instead of tucked up in the sling.

Airdrying clay and our coil pots, my first in about thirty years……

Heart sharing, and listening, being heard…

Bare feet outside, I’d forgotten.

Spring flowers and the sunshine….   and hawthorn leaves. Lily used to refuse cabbage and spinach but munch happily on wild greens every Spring.

The lengthening and brightening days, start to awaken connection, feeling sharing crying


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Wednesday gratitude

This week I am grateful for….

Nettle risotto, the first of the year, with fresh nettles and wild garlic…so delicious.

Planting seeds, basil, lettuce, hyssop, dill, echinacea…… the promise of healing to come.

Finch in the polytunnels, playing for the first time instead of tucked up in the sling.

Air drying clay and our coil pots, my first in about thirty years……

Heart sharing, and listening, being heard…

Bare feet outside, I’d forgotten.

Spring flowers and the sunshine….   and hawthorn leaves. Lily used to refuse cabbage and spinach but munch happily on wild greens every Spring.

The lengthening and brightening days start to awaken connection, feeling, sharing, crying; after the months of hibernation I always feel newly peeled in Spring, slightly raw and exposed, less grey, feeling more intensely, joy and grief in equal measure.

Starting a new writing project…..an important one….

What are you grateful for this week?


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Wednesday gratitude

I know I didn’t do this last week apart from in my head, I was in a bus all day, and …well its plainly not the day for complaining….so that story will have to keep.!!

This week I am grateful for ….

The sun. It was nearly warm today….

The community I live in.. as Spring rolls closer, I am coming out of my winter hibernation….planting trees, chasing chickens, dropping by for cups of tea. We live in such beautiful land and gardens

New painting and printing techniques…so exciting

Snowdrops and crocuses…Tansy, Leo, Finch and I spent an hour sitting among them this morning and making felt flower fairies in the sun.

My crawling baby…..

More beautiful photographs from my talented son…..

Being tired…..well there’s got to be something positive about it!….it makes me whittle down to the basics…..and yes go to bed a bit earlier!

That’s now..night night!!


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Wednesday Gratitude

This week, I am grateful for,

Doing my back in…(really) and spending a day and a half in bed with Finch.  Although in severe discomfort it helped me gain perspective on my harried, goal orientated life…and remember how it is to sit…or lie still. I have felt calmer and more focussed since my time in bed and can manage to walk now and actually be in the moment of walking….rather than planning next weeks menu or the next article or painting in my head.

Having my article White Feathers published on my friend Kate’s website..do take a look.

A lovely home ed morning in bed, painting and making animal finger puppets for learning French.

Bread made with Khorosan.kamut flour….hot from the oven with dripping butter its irresistable….!

My very wonderful mother’s group which I mentioned in my previous post. We met and cried and laughed and connected in a beautiful hand built round house. Supportive and nurturing.

My  first painting out in the world..in a lovely brand new online magazine…. here

My partner Hugh for bringing me breakfast in bed when I was ill..the ultimate luxury…and taking Finch away so I could eat alone….and giving me a much needed back massage..

And you? What are you grateful for this week?


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Two swans between the houses

Space.
Spaciousness.
Room to breathe and connect.

That’s what I need.

Each day seems a breathless scuttling of doing, rushing, half doing, kicking things under the sofa just so  I don’t have to deal with them in that moment, squeezing things in squeezing things out. I have developed a strange, scurrying scuffle, brought on in part by the slightly too big faded lilac slippers I wear around the house, partly by the gasping need to be beyond my next destination, five minutes ago. Too many gaping loads of laundry to process, too many loaves of bread to cook, vats of soup to produce, and tantalising sticks of charcoal waiting on the side, tubes of delicious paint luring my gaze from the latest batch of flapjack in progress.

This afternoon I drove home in the cold shivering rain from a particularly nurturing mother’s group I belong to. Our children are cared for in a creche for two hours, and  and  we sit in circle, in silence and in deep listening, and our tears and heartfelt connection and support are like a true balm, for us harried struggling 21st century mothers living in our isolation and overwhelm.

I felt particularly soothed and connected to the women in the group today, and usually as I drive home after my group I feel resourced to cope with another week.

But as I drove today  I realised I was progressing more and more slowly, I DIDN’T WANT TO GO HOME.

I was dreading walking into mess and disorder, jobs shouting at me from every corner…Me Me Me, and poor little Finch dragged around trying to half complete them all, never ending. Stuff, detritus, things to sort, things to clean, things to make. I wanted none of it. I wanted still, peace, calm, silence solitude.

And then I saw them. Maybe for ten seconds, on the river, a glimpse between to houses. In the rain against the unappealing mud brown of the river Dart in flood.

Two swans.

Nothing special, just two swans, stretching their necks and doing their thing in the rain, in the cold, in the mud. And I wanted to be there, with them, heck I even wanted to be them.

Simple calm beautiful wild and free.

I felt as if I was in chains.

But who has the key to the padlock?

I could have got out of the car and walked through the mud and rain and sat with them, the wind beating in my ears like a wild thing playing its mournful song.

But I had three children in the car and I didn’t. I came home and got a bit frustrated, tried to paint. Got cross with everyone. Tried to remember the swans. Forgot them.

But now, late at night I remember them.

Remember their grace and simplicity.
How they must feel, down there on the mud, not thinking, stressing and flustering around in baggy lilac slippers.

I want to be a swan.

I don’t really want to be  swan, but I want to learn from them.

Learn to use my thoughts less, my head less, listen from my heart, my belly, sniff the air, sharpen my ears, soften my gaze. Sit by the waters edge with nothing to do but BE.

Just Be.
Be like a swan.

 


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Wednesday gratitude

Today I am grateful for,

My lovely vintage typewriter, so many cool things I can do with this!

Fresh salad still in the polytunnel, to eat with our Bavarian meal tonight….(brought by our German students dad yesterday..)

Art journalling, a new found pleasure and potential exploration into a healing tool to share with others…..

A good homeschool day, coming in the wake of one where I was ready to give up. Yoga, weaving, reading,  cooking, a pleasure….

Another painting getting there….

Celebrating Imbolc with Tansy and Leo, and watching their beautiful focus making Bridie dolls to honour the goddess Bridget and carry our germinating seeds of inspiration……

 Those minute shards of time when I can lift a paintbrush, place two words to sing on the page together, sit and take a solitary breath….they are precious  indeed.
And you?
What are you grateful for this week?


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Wednesday Gratitude

I think the universe is challenging this new gratitude space of mine. My first Wednesday…and one of those days which is so eye poppingly full of tiny challenges, huge challenges and enormous  tests of patience.
In my regular way I could chronicle this quite entertaining catalogue of domestic tribulations (I must just mention cat vomit as the grand finale..)

BUT.

I won’t.

Instead…..
I sigh, and breathe out and thank, thank…myself first for remembering to use my skills of listening to divert and soothe a major melt down at a home education group

I am grateful……. for this space here which reminds me to practice being grateful.

……….. for the beautiful gardens around me, and the food they produce.

………..for our chickens, the girls have started their spring egg laying with a great fervour, such a treat to hold warm eggs on a frosty morning

………..for the chance to paint and create again, this time with Misty Mawn and her Full Circle online course,

……….for getting to make a handmade art journal for my course with the kids, and its also home ed.

……….For the new climbing club they attend tomorrow which they love and means I get to hang out and drink coffee with some cool mamas and discuss inspiring stuff while Finch naps.

………For sugar free apricot and carob bars, a tasty new recipe which Tansy can eat…..and everyone likes.

…….for having a nursing baby which makes me sit down in the middle of the day…..a big exhale several times a day.

….this music which I bought at our table top sale today at the home ed group, and which dramatically improved the atmosphere at our homecoming….cat vomit notwithstanding

Well I already feel better  …….it would have been easy to slip into a moany evening…..

And I’m grateful for you reading this! Of course!

What are you grateful for?

 


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Blooming True

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This is what I have been doing…in between . In the little moments. The tiny hours where a baby
might sleep for a moment, the hour where a child might play, a teen might be at school, when I am between jobs, between needs, slipping between the marching daily hours to feed myself…more nourishing than food…

Twenty five years ago, I  was told not to pursue art at school because, ‘only thick kids do art’. Really. My dear physics teacher, thanks Mr. W, uttered these fateful words, backed up by….well everyone apart from my Art teacher and me actually. We were both pretty keen. But my keenness, my love, the light which sparked in my belly every time I stood in front of a row of pencils, pastels, paints in an art supply shop;  the way in which everything else faded away when I was immersed in drawing or creating, well it wasn’t tough enough to fight. I wasn’t tough.
I let myself be pulled away ‘don’t waste your brains you could do anything…languages, sciences…that’s what you need’
‘Keep a little sketch book if you like……you have to be really up there to do anything in art…’.

‘Birds..’ nearly finished!!

And so I was ‘good’ sailing (academically) through the rest of school with an ache every time I stood at the door of the Art room and saw my friends printing painting, sculpting and sketching…
Since then, I’ve drawn..a little bit, painted, a little bit…made birthday cards, and then……

Well I discovered, via the inspiring Lucy Pearce at Dreaming Aloud, someone who could help. Someone who could help release the good girl syndrome which held me back, stifled my creativity, made me think I couldn’t, shouldn’t, perhaps just wasn’t meant to. Someone inspiring, joyful and life affirming and full of joyous colour and soulfu,l beautiful art.

I enrolled on a Bloom True course     with Flora Bowley.   A brave move for someone with a two month old baby…but a blessed move, an inspired move, the right move.

I hesitated before enrolling…should I spend the money, could I commit the time…..Flora posts six in depth posts every week for five weeks….
The answer was YES!!

Flora Bowley 2011

For the first time in my life I felt free when I painted, free from self doubt, self criticism, free from ‘shoulds’ and free to paint from a place of intuition and playfulness.

Sneaking up to my bedroom with Finch every moment I could, to my makeshift studio by the window I layered glorious colour  upon colour, inspired by Flora’s daily lessons which encouraged me to let go, be brave and let my intuition be my guide.

                 Flora Bowley 2012

More than just a painting course, Bloom True encourages the participants to find their own voice, their true, and authentic intuitive and courageous voice, in art and in life.

Through professionally shot videos we were led through the progression of two large paintings from start to finish, interspersed with studio exercises, instagram prompts, and  daily encouragement and tips on painting and life.

For me the course was worth every penny….the magic happened on the canvas as I built up layer upon layer of paint, not planning, or thinking too much just doing what felt right in the moment and trusting that was right.

Joy

There is a Facebook group to share work and thoughts, and now, months after the course has finished, many of us are still posting and supporting each other in the group. It has become a very special forum for sharing artwork and advice about not only painting but how our lives have been affected by this adventure in colour.

We all have our journeys…our damaged, joyous, painful and beautiful lives. A vibrant, loving and graceful spirit sings and paints among us; and healing and magic is happening even now as we continue to paint and create and share in our group. Art helps me heal. It helps me grow in confidence when people actually talk of buying my work.

When I started the course, one of the first exercises was to do some journaling and set intentions for the five week program. My first instinctive thought was to create something of what Lily has left me. Her love and joy and the feeling that I must not waste my life. It seems wrong to shy away from my longings, it seems wrong to be fearful of trying things which I burn to do…not wrong but somehow a waste. We are all designed to shine, we were not created to hide and apologise.

Angel

Lily’s seven short beautiful years mean so much, and I have learnt so much since her death that I realise that I must start shining, with her light and with mine.

Being brave was the theme for the fourth week of painting with Flora and probably the hardest for me. Always the ‘good’ girl, doing what I think is expected…it felt so liberating to do what I wanted and to find ways to know what it is I want.

Flora Bowley’s e course has changed the way I paint and helped me take a giant step forward on my path in life,  and I wholeheartedly recommend Bloom True course, the next one starts on Feb 10th….sign up you won’t regret it!

This post contains affiliate links as I support Flora’s work and want to share it with you…..


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Life Loss and Gratitude

I don’t quite know why I’ve abandoned this space for so long. Its grey windswept corridors blown about with tumbleweed and debris . Life comes and life goes, blown by the wind, warmed by the sun watered by the (near continual )rain. People are born, people die, days are passed and tempers are lost. Love is found and divided out in slices, the Christmas tree is  down. Its the end its the beginning. I have no time.
I have little shards of time, tiny splinters which glitter like hard won jewels dug from a deep mine far away on a lost continent. I have to be as creative, flexible and bending with my time as a serpent. So flexible. So creative
.

A week ago an enormous church in our town was filled with people: remembering the life of a creative, generous, gentle man who spread singing across the world, a member of the community I live in. A ceremony of singing, sighing laughing, remembering. Sometimes, I barely managed to coordinate the keeping -everyone- occupied activities of finger knitting, French knitting and nursing nursing a teething, wildly possetting baby, child fights and demands, …all in a whisper; sometimes I was  engulfed in a wave of tears with the vast singing community of people who will miss him;

The songs we learned. Dance between the practicalities of caring for children in a reverent space, and moments of immersion when they disappeared to play upstairs.When someone dies it is as if everyone who has died is present too, a shimmering haze, amongst us and beyond us. Joyful and sorrowful, entwined, woven into the same cloth. There were certainly angels there.

And life on either side is full, a blurred juggle of endless food preparation..(We have gained another teenager for twelve weeks, taking the head count to seven, a German exchange student) converting our entrance hall into his bedroom; Christmas quilts hurriedly finished, New Year clear outs and purging. My bedroom especially, a growling lair of unsorted papers, half finished weaving, sewing and knitting projects, bags and bags of children’s clothes which need rationalizing reducing cleaning…throwing out.

Did I mention the rain?

You see I can be a moaner, a grumbling whinging oh its not fair kind of gal….ask my partner if you don’t believe me….he gets the worst of it….

So my intention is to be simply grateful.  Hmm its becoming a bit of a trend isn’t it? Gratitude Fridays, Thankful Thursdays…….. no blog complete without one.

Well maybe it works.

Finding just one teeny tiny thing each day to be grateful for, in between all the challenges, demands and whines of life can become a habit, and even grow. Stopping to notice the watery sun appearing outside as I complete the fifth round of washing up today, or the delicate tracery of Jack Frost’s fern magic on the windows as I shiver to the bathroom. Pausing to watch just how Finch can now pursue a favourite rattle with his eye, and make attempts to retrieve it, and how Tansy appeared unasked with a full basket of clean laundry hauled up from the cellar wash room ‘because I knew you needed it Mum, and were busy.’

Little things.
Important things.
Things that make me smile relax and BREATHE.
Slow down.
Feel a moment of love, a moment of Connection…With the sun. With Jack Frost. With Finch. With Tansy. It spreads…its contagious….before I know it I’ve noticed something else, someone else. A hug a look a smile, ahh it all seems better for a moment.

Gratitude. The only question remains…which day will I post? Today!!
So, every Wednesday, its gratitude day, and I will post my daily gratitudes from the week

What are you grateful for? Do feel  post a link to your blog if you feel moved to join in


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Phoenix rising

Days keep tumbling by, days with things to do, days with space to be filled, days of jumble and overflowing
thoughts, days to remind myself where we’re living: where we were living two months ago, three months ago, where we’ll be in two weeks.
Friend’s caravans, friend’s cabins, a friend’s house, our cabin…..and our new home waiting around the corner at the end of the month, new beginnings….

People mention Phoenixes quite alot at the moment, which is encouraging, as the other option is to sink into the ashes of our home and grovel among the broken plates and charred books and let our eyes and ears slowly fill with toxic choking grey dust…wallow in the sorrow and loss of our vanished home…

We must rise.

There have been days when rising is the last thing I want to do, when the weight of loss, not just for the fabric of our cabin but for the whole way of life it represented….is too crushing to bear, and wallowing seems like the only possible way, but there are little shards of light piercing the dark.

We have lost our home but not our friends and family.
Friends and family who have given us food, money and bedding, toys, books, art materials.
Who have rung up at just the right moment to invite me to coffee, when loneliness and sadness were just about to consume me.
Who have cooked meals and given us their son’s old bed…and said any time you need……
Who have sent messages and words of support, love and hope.
Who have spent hours sorting second hand laptops out for us and hauling galvanised metal and bits of burnt house around.
Who have never even met me but still offer help…

We have lost our belongings but not each other.
We are changed, buffeted again by the tornado our life has become, but still here, still eating, drinking, singing even, laughing…..still living..

This is what I’m learning:

Loss strengthens us.
Loss plunges us into an abyss so deep and terrible that the only way out is to a better shining place. Our delicate tender selves, wounded and scarred, are irreversibly toughened; imbued with hard won wisdom and  a depth which opens doorways to our hearts.
Our hearts and everyone elses .
Loss strips away material concerns (ironically) and pares away the petty trappings of our fluttering lives, the aneasthesia of media, shopping, worries about what other people think, strips it all away and allows us glimpses of the shining core at the centre of everything, at the centre of us.

We sigh into this, and are touched by the sight of a delicate new moon or an apricot infused sunset, we can see it reflected in the harassed woman waiting for the bus, or the man who just pushed past us to get across the road.
We are all wounded. We all carry pain.We have all suffered, or will all suffer loss of something or someone we love.
But we do have a choice.
We can carry that pain bitterly and closely, twisted beneath our burning skin and become sick and miserable,  or we can allow the searing heat of our loss to cleanse and clear what is not needed in our lives; the armour we paste around ourselves, the shields, the judgements, the  comparisons, the guilt….and find our way back to ourselves. Our way back to others….especially to others…we are not alone.
We need each other.
We’re not supposed to do it alone.
This is one of my biggest lessons
This is one I’m learning faster than I thought I would.

There are more changes and huge life events ahead of us in the coming months and I know I’ll be repeating these words to myself many times, just to remind myself.

We’re not supposed to do it alone.
And thankyou to you, dear readers for reminding me too!!!