Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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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!!!


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Gratitude

Last week I felt odd, hence last weeks odd post. Jumbled up and sleep deprived and rushed and hemmed in.
A little space this week thanks to two days of granny care for the children. I have been next door to our wonderful neighbour’s house for a yoga class. My family and I ate a delicious New Years day lunch at the house of some lovely friends who wanted to give us a break from building our house.

These may seem like little things, but in the whirlwind of these final house building days they are precious moments of rest, positivity and rejuvenation. It has been to easy to be dragged down by the mud, the relentlessness of the tasks still to complete, the demands and needs of the children, but these interludes have given me the space to remember that life is good and reaching out to others and receiving the gifts they have to offer is a blessed thing. It often feels more comfortable for me to be the giver, makes me feel better, like I have earned my right to be here. And so for me to receive the gifts of others is hard, but completes the circle of friendship. There are times when I can be supportive and help others and there are times like now, when to receive with grace and no apologies is the most loving thing I can do.

And in these moments of gratitude and receiving I find I can also appreciate those things that I have found hard to accept, like building a home in a place where Lily has not lived.

As our little home in the woods nears completion, (Hugh and Freddie nailed down the last floorboard yesterday) I can honestly say that I am now quite excited that we’ll be moving in next week. As I have spent more time on the land, stapling recycled blankets on ceilings, hammering on wall slates, being in the woods, I have begun, slowly to accept that this will soon be our home. For a long time, despite the excitement that everyone expresses when I talk about our little cabin on the land, I found it hard to share the enthusiasm, Partly, because as we are right in the middle of the build, in winter, racing against a deadline, and it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Partly because I found it hard to imagine living away from the place where Lily spent her last months. Now, thanks to the generosity of friends we are having a two month ‘holiday’ in a house, and I am finding it possible to live here, despite the fact that Lily has not. It is ok to move on.

And it will be ok to move again, to our new home. The clear spaces and little interludes this week have enabled me to feel wisps of excitement, feathery between the tiredness.  How the land will develop and flourish….herbs, goats, vegetables….secret plans….And I’ve even started making curtains, and researching old whiskey barrels as bath tubs!

I’m so very grateful to the many people who have helped us along our path. We have asked for , and been offered so much practical and loving help and support, we don’t feel alone. It’s hard to ask and hard to accept help but the bonds of community and connection and love are far more beautiful than  the stranglehold of independance and isolation.  And I also love being here, writing, and reading your comments, the stolen moments where  I can sneak in a new post, the lovely words of sharing, encouragement and support.
Thankyou.