Angel Wings and Herb Tea

Life after loss; healing through creativity, writing and art


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Sick but blessed

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I don’t get ill. I don’t really have the time. If I get ill all the tightly held reins that I hold between my fingers each day get tangled and knotted, all those balls juggling high in the air above me fall crashing to the ground; the balance of the household which sometimes I feel I hold onto with the edge of my fingernails….is lost.

I might get a little cold, but can’t really stop. I might get a bad back, but can’t really stop. Vomiting bugs come and go, I am unscathed, and nurse everyone else back to health. I have worried that I am never ill, and hope I’m not suppressing things and not allowing myself to be ill. Sometimes, now this is a bit perverse…I actually want to be ill, not seriously ill of course, but just ill enough to feel that I’m allowed to lie in bed and read and write and drink cups of tea…alone. Allowed hmm. I’ll come back to that one.

Well, just before my birthday mid December, I started getting tooth pain…booked in to see the dentist, by which time my jaw was swelling and I couldn’t open my mouth so well. The short version; I developed an excruciating tooth abcess which made my jaw swell to huge rock like proportions and restricted movement so that I couldn’t even get a toothbrush in my mouth.

In short I was ill. Lying in bed with herbal pastes laced in garlic wrapped around my tooth, drinking tinctures and green smoothies , swilling coconut oil and salt water around my mouth, asking everyone who knew anything for advice, consulting tarot cards, inner wisdom, journalling, meditating sleeping……

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I hadn’t asked for a tooth abscess, but I had one. I was in bed, I released the juggling balls, I cast down the tightly held reins of the house, and as it was also my birthday, figured it was ok.

It was painful, disfiguring, restricted me to a liquid only diet for a week, made me realize how much my appearance matters..(I started to swathe myself in scarfs to hide my jaw) and really challenged my natural only approach to treating illness. (It made me realize lots of other things too, but I’ll come to that later)

I don’t really go to the doctors. Occasionally for a diagnosis, and then I treat the problem at home….conjunctivitis, coughs thrush, infected fingers, sore throats…with a combination of diet, herbs, rest and lots of raw garlic, I can see away most of my family’s ills. I have become used to doing this, over my 16 years of mothering. So I put the antibiotics to one side, promising myself I would use them if I couldn’t sort myself in say, two or three days….

And it got quite strange. I lost my clarity and sense of what was the right thing to do. I became muddled and panicky and asked a lot of people for advice. I listened to them more than myself. I took so many remedies , smoothies, juices and green drinks(largely because I couldn’t get solid food into my mouth) that I actually began to feel very well, and energized, but my jaw continued to swell, my mouth opening ever more restricted. I didn’t stick to my original promise of taking the drugs after a couple of days…oh I’ll take them tomorrow became my daily mantra.

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The emergency dentist put me straight. Flinging his instruments down after failing to get into my mouth he became quite cross. I understood. I just needed to take the goddam drugs, breastfeeding or not. The fact that I had been practically weaned onto antibiotics as a kid notwithstanding. There had been a moment in the middle of the night where I COULDN’T EVEN SWALLOW A GULP OF WATER. It came out of my nose because my throat had swelled shut. That was pretty scarey.

I took the drugs, the swelling went down. My mouth still wouldn’t open. My dentist washed her hands of me. A and E the day before Christmas eve..they started to ask when I last ate…

‘Oh it’ll be a two or three night stay in hospital, general anesthetic, draining the abscess, tooth extraction.’

‘But I’m breast feeding…its Christmas….’

More antibiotics and home for Christmas.

Yesterday, after a week of no pain, with a tooth extraction planned for…’several weeks time’ the pain started up again. The abscess was coming back. I bolted to hospital, got the goddam thing whipped out. Five lots of aneasthetic jabbed into the site of the infection. Childbirth was not this painful. I’m not sure how I walked back to the car and drove myself home.

Now I’m through, having a quiet day, Finch with a childminder for a few hours, hot salt rinses and time to think, to paint a bit, write a bit.

Its been a journey. I’m very grateful to it. To the abscess. Despite the pain, and discomfort, there were so many levels of learning and realisation in there for me.

1. I usually eat a lot. I mean a lot, and frequently, as in grazing, nibbling, just hoovering up leftovers, spooning a bit of peanut butter in, grabbing a few raisins. When I couldn’t open my mouth, it felt like a much needed rest. I didn’t even want to eat! My body felt fresh and relieved.

2. I don’t allow myself to stop. There. The allow word. I don’t allow myself. There’s no-one standing over me cracking a whip if I don’t sweep the floor six times a day or wash the nappies. Granted we may be wading through bread crusts, sylvanians and spat out food, and I would have to buy some disposable nappies, but I do have the choice. I don’t have to spend every minute of the precious hours when Finch is asleep being frantically productive. (Although I can if I want)  Its my choice. I don’t even have to churn out three home cooked lovingly prepared from fresh natural ingredients meals a day. I could just by oven ready pizza. Its my choice.

When I was ill I had to stop. I let go of my usual pre Christmas compulsion to handcraft everything, from gingerbread houses to Steiner dolls,  from cards to elaborate papercut mobiles of angels. I had an excuse. I was ill.

I don’t need an excuse to stop. I just stop…just for a few moments..half an hour…half a day..

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Ps I did actually make a Steiner doll for Finch, but I made it with my feet up watching a film so it doesn’t count!!

3. I don’t look after myself. That’s why I get cranky irritable, impatient, exhausted resentful under resourced. Two days after my birthday I wondered why my long term chronic back pain had eased. My partner wryly pointed out that it was because I had stopped rushing around like a crazy woman, had a back massage and taken some long hot baths. Oh yeah. All the green smoothies, veggie juices, epsom salt baths…sure made me feel better than stuffing something in my mouth whilst rushing out of the door dragging hundreds of children behind me. Add in some meditating, stretching and fresh air and exercise, connection with friends and nature and chance to do what I love best, and I’d be pretty happy most of the time. Its hard to get to that point, but its worth it.

4. Herbal medicine and homeopathy etc is amazing I will still use it practically to the exclusion of anything else to treat me and my family..BUT, sometimes antibiotics are ok. Now this may not seem like a big one to some of you, but I was practically fed on them as a kid, (along with copious amounts of sugar dairy wheat) and was sickly unhealthy with chronic bronchitis, tonsillitis, digestive issues, lethargic and melancholy. The last time I took antibiotics was 16years ago, for two days…I stopped when it made my wee breast feeding babe sick. So for me it was a biggie, particularly as I am still feeding Finch….who yes was pretty ill with them.

5. I know what is best for me. My body has innate wisdom and all answers are right there inside my belly, my heart, even my jaw! I just need to trust that inner voice. No matter if it seems a bit crazy or not what I’d expect or if it goes against what other people think. Its always going to disagree with someone! My inner voice was clear ..take the antibiotics in two days. Then I got muddled and listened to people who I gave more power than I gave to myself. And I let it get pretty bad.

Phew!

That’s alot of learning from one rotten tooth.

Does it take something like that to get you to realise forgotten wisdom? Do you have to get ill to look after yourself..or are you a well resourced calm person who drifts easily and serenely through his or her days tapping into your intuition easily? I’d love to hear, its always inspiring and comforting to hear your stories…….

Love Henrietta x

 


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Sometimes my cloak is big enough

Today’s post is part of the Moods of Motherhood blogging carnival celebrating the launch of the second edition of Moods of Motherhood: the inner journey of mothering by Amazon bestselling author, Lucy H. Pearce (published by Womancraft Publishing).

Today over 40 mothers around the world reflect on the internal journey of motherhood: raw, honest and uncut. To see a list of the other contributors and to win your own copy visit Dreaming Aloud.net

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I am the vortex of a spinning wheel, a blur of maternal motion, a Catherine wheel of sparking thoughts, love, resentment joy and despair. Faster and faster I whirl through my days in a dance of agony and ecstasy. Everyday I spin outwards, my thread stretching, stretching, until it is in places as fine as a spider’s gossamer, in places as fat and comfortable as an old velvet cushion.  As fraught and taught as a fine steel wire prickled with barbs, twanging tight and sharp with tension. As soft and yielding as the underbelly of a mother mouse, silken to the touch and quivering with love..

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This is me. I am a mother, my life is woven of an inestimable collection of these threads, the sharp scratch of rough spun black wool of trying too hard to do the work of three people in a single hour; cheap beige polyester ball of flat dull monotony of meal planning and nappy washing, the softest alpaca yarn of sinking deep into the sofa with my toddler, a warm cup of tea to hand; the rainbow skein of lambs wool of a joyous red cheeked family day on the moor; the iridescent shimmer of fine silk of a few shining moments of awareness of my darling Lily who lives in other realms not so far away as it sometimes seems.

Eight little souls have been held in the dark creatrix of my womb, five have been birthed into earth bound children and right now my mother cloak feels large and comfortable enough for all of them, in whatever dimension they are.

Right now.

It’s big enough, warm enough, wide enough, strong enough, loving enough for all this quivering, laughing, rippling, kicking, slumbering, singing beings within its folds.

My cloak is all powerful, like the best medicine of hedgerow herbs stored in carefully stoppered jars in my cupboard; like the like the most nourishing tales spun by candlelight near a November fire; like a cup of warm spiced milk and honey, sipped by a child in the curve of my arm.

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Right now I am in the café which sells the best coffee in town, by myself, writing this, after a walk down the winding green lane from home, all scattered with the golden and crimson leaves of autumn. I had a good morning home educating my 9 and 7 year old and ticked everything off my to do list, including learning to spin using a drop spindle and doing maths while Finch slept. I even hung the laundry out.

So I feel good;  Nourished. Satisfied. Capable. Resourced.

I’m sure you know its not like this every day.

Yesterday I was at the tail end of  a week run of a night time vomiting bug which spread its tendrils around each child in sucession.  Milk and diced carrots on my pillow at night, sheets soaking evilly in the bath, cups of herbal concoctions to soothe troubled tummys and flint sharp irritation with minor daily annoyances. (like someone eating just that bit too loud , a little too close to my ear) Cascades of unwashed laundry in the bathroom and still the need to cook volumes of food for all the people still well enough to eat. And late night support for teenage school projects. And constant availability of my body for comforting whoever was ill. And the need for producing captivating home ed projects for children well enough to work and wanting sums…yes really! And feverish almost constant sweeping of downright filthy floors with pale shaky toddler on my back, hip, lap, head, in an effort to believe that the house was not a complete slum. And quickly leaping up to deal with the latest ‘accident’…(even the cat decided to start vomiting in sympathy!) the minute I’d managed to grab a cup of tea and sit down for a moment.

The German student decided to have a birthday in the middle of all this, for which, in a heady, rash moment, I’d promised cake; baking for work days and school fairs, phone calls, emails solicitors banks, all needed to be dealt with.

My head was at once hollow and grey with fatigue, and squirming with tired illogical manic energy, half formed ideas which never quite made it out of my head through the pen and into a notebook.

I became devious with plotting ten minutes alone in my bedroom, sneaking off on the pretence of needing the toilet, five minutes to calmly crochet, to still my teeming brain, breathe, and soothe myself with the creative repetition.

I forgot myself , I forgot my body, I forgot that I had needs, I swore and crashed about and became downright weasely with resentment and self pity, wrangling and bargaining time from my time poor partner in a failing effort to stay sane. Everyone felt the cutting blade of my anger, my stress levels, my sheer exhaustion.

Someone asked me for a cuddle at a bedtime which had already gone on for far too long….nursing, singing, story telling, herbal tea fetching. And I said,  for the record I said, ‘for god’s sake haven’t you had enough of me already’ and dropped a quick kiss…just so desperate to get away to  an empty kitchen and a fire and a late night cup of tea, and hell, the chance to perhaps exchange two words with my partner while doing the washing up.

The poor child just wanted a cuddle and I just had nothing left to give, not a whisper.

I didn’t feel great about it.

But that’s what its like, the rollercoaster ride of motherhood which dips and soars with no warning that its about to change. Anger can evaporate in a moment, impatience can arrive in a second.

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My love can spread itself very thin, it can achieve the work of ten in a day, can shimmer with saintly patience, shine with immeasurable brilliance…..and it can sometimes take a break to sleep. Its there, always…always but sometimes it needs to recharge.

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Little Life, Big Life

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My life seems very small sometimes. Occupying the triangle between the sink, the fire, the cooker, with frequent diversions to the nappy bucket, the woodstore, the fridge. There and back there and back. The tending of bottoms, the encouraging of children’s writing, the creator of family nutrition, the sweep of a broom, the swipe of a damp cloth. Small, repetitive dull. The hundred practiced moves I have perfected into a choreographed sequence that no one will ever applaud; the way I use my toe to lift the duvet back when I have a sleeping baby to lay into the bed, the barrier my knee creates in a second when I am taking yet another casserole from the oven and a baby appears unexpectedly, the swift gasp and grab of a child falling backwards off a chair, the way I hang dry cups on their hooks with one hand while I am filling the kettle with the other….just to save 30 seconds. Those 30 seconds could mean a breath, a pause, a moment to gaze unproductively into a distance I no longer inhabit.

A distance of spaciousness. A distant memory of time.

Time dropping slowly, like  a slow tap dripping in an empty bathroom, with no hurries or concerns but the perfect plunk of its splash onto the clean white enamel.

Time sitting silently like the soft bloom of a perfect plum hanging on a branch with no pressure to perform or produce or create.

My life seems very small and tight. Coils of highly strung wire wound around the narrow space of my anxious and over zealous brain. Cramped spider words weaving in and out of my notebook of tasks to perform and ideas to torment myself with because I barely have time to think about them let alone nurse them into being.

Finish short story about the medieaval bee garden! Hang laundry  (yes I really do write this down, just so I can tick it off) Write article for Green Parent! Knit the socks for Finch! For God’s sake finish the second draft of the children’s book about… Teach Tansy to use the drop spindle, finish home ed felting project, learn poem to teach them on Monday, pay veg delivery, plan next weeks school work (by tomorrow evening) keep up with daily journal. Finish three unfinished canvases and look into creating website. Write weeks menu. Shop for it. Cook it . Try to eat it but abandon it to change nappy and put unhappy baby to bed . Lie for hours alternately nursing, singing soothing lullabies and yelping in frustration as  ideas come and go and can’t record them as have only a blunt pale yellow pencil by bedside and no paper and besides its dark, and my breast is attached to someone’s mouth so movement limited.

I can let my life be small, narrow, constricted. Its me who’s doing it. Setting expectations up and seeing them dashed is just something I’ve done. Something I do.

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Every day I walk through the ambitiously named Hope Wood, hopeful to be a big wood one day but currently a jagged collection of tiny oaks and rowans, Guelder Roses and beech…dotted along the driveway. Its a short walk, taken at a stately pace in silence, just me and Finch and the buggy, nap time,  the same slow circuit past the beehives, the silver Birch, the giant Sweet chestnut where the voracious Italian Bees have swarmed, stealing all the honey from the local guys. I pick oak galls to boil with a rusty nail for a home ed project to make ink, I nibble on ripe Hawthorn berries, I see the weak autumn sun slanting through the translucent yellow leaves of the Beech trees, I let my head stop squirming with busy thoughts. The air is fresh, calming, the rooks are noisy and free in the car park.  The squirrels are free and noisy in the Sweet Chestnut.

I let my own chains drop just for a few minutes. My heart has chance to expand, there’s a whisper in the breeze, a tendril of possibility, a glimpse into a place of expansion, a place of infinite depth and simplicity.  Even the nettles know more than I do, and that’s the truth. More about what the world’s really about, what beat is thrumming beneath our feet, the call of the wild which my ears are clouded to by the clatter of daily demands and minutiae.

I go to the beach and feel energised and calm, like nothing is quite as complicated as it was when I was trying to pick up a sock between my toes while texting and telling everyone to just shut up for one Goddam moment please..and give me some peace.

My life can be very big. Not by doing more. Not by travelling to South America and studying with shamans in the Amazon…although I admit that would be amazing…not by being famous…not by doing anything actually.

Its big when I just am.

Just am in this very moment. Present to what is. And its often something amazing.

Outside, in the wild, on the moor, in the woods, by the sea, that’s the real soul feeding space. Its easy to be present to the moment there, the wind and rain and flying leaves and spray in my face.  I need to remind myself of this daily. I get so caught up with what’s not important, so sidetracked by what I should be doing…I could die tomorrow, and then what? Will my soul be rich enough, loving enough, full of beauty…or just some withered piece of shrunken to do list?

 

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Interview with artist Janine Adamo

So , as promised, here is my the interview with Janine and some stunning examples of her work, be sure to check out her website …links at the end…for more of her beautiful paintings.
1. How does my creative process work? 
I am a single mom of 2 little girls, ages 7 and 9. So by day I am a freelance graphic designer and by night I am a painter. Some days I get to paint during the day when I don’t have work to do or house work or chores. Before I start painting I like to light candles, I have an alter with candles and stones on it and my sage. I then like to sage my space, clear it of anything negative and it feels good, to start new each time I paint. I sage my space, my paint and my canvas and me of course. I then choose my paint, it depends on what layer I am on. I like to start with my warm colors and just put paint on the canvas, dance around and be free. Then when dry I add the cool colors. I learned this process from Flora Bowley. I just put marks on the canvas, all different kinda and I use a ll different kinda of things too like dice and round caps and things I find at the hardware store, anything that will make an interesting mark. I do a few layers and then I may see something in the paint or I start sketching on my canvas with chalk, I like to keep all of my painted marks when I can, it adds depth. OH and you can’t forget the texture! I LOVE texture, so I add joint tape to my pieces and also moulding paste. I paint right on top of it an it gives it that extra something. You want to touch my paintings because of the texture. I also add collage like book text or what ever I can find. Sometimes I need to sit and sketch in my sketchbook and it brings out what I am wanting to paint. But the big thing for me to remember is that their are no mistakes, that is the beauty of Acrylic… you can paint right over it when it dries and acrylic paint dries fast! That takes away the pressure of having my marks having to be perfect the first time around. I also like to go to galleries, art shows, botanical gardens, anything to get my creative juices flowing.  I guess my process is something I do when I paint and when I don’t paint because being an artist you also get influenced by many day to day things, that is the beauty of art.

 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? 
I feel like everyone has something unique to share. No two people are alike and no two artist are alike. Yes, their are similar techniques and styles and even with in them, I feel that each person brings their own spice to the mix, weather its their favorite color palette or subject matter.  My work depicts my life, you ask me about any of my paintings and I will tell you what was going on in my life at the time. It always amazes me how I never know what my piece are going to look like when they’re done but when it is done and I sit back and look at it, it is telling me something, it is showing me what I need to see or hear at this point in my life. Sometimes I don’t get it right away but eventually I do. 

 

 
3. What am I working on now? 
Now I am working on 2 canvas’s, only marks at the moment. I will be blogging about them to show my process. I am excited about 2 courses I will be taking in the future, one is Tracy Verdugo’s Paint Mojo course which will start September 24 and then Flora Bowley’s e-course which starts October 13. I took Floras course a year ago and wow, how my work has changed ever since. I continue to take e-courses, I am learning what is for me and what is not. But I want to continue my education, I want to continue to learn, learn new techniques and styles and how other artists go about their work. It helps me grow and become a better artist. It also helps me create my own style and look. I pick bits and pieces from each person I learn from and make it my own. 

 

 
4. Why do I do what I do?
 
I do what I do to stay sane. I get this feeling, a nudge inside when I have to paint. Its in me, it makes me happy, it’s my meditation, my release, my everything. You see, I was in a deep depression about 2 years ago, what got me out of it was painting. I had not painted since art school. And I signed up for the Sketchbook Project, did my sketchbook on depression and that was it, I could not stop creating, I could not stop painting, doing anything I could to keep the creativity flowing. I started painting again and have not looked back ever since. It has always been a dream of mine to have a studio and paint and share and now I am doing it and loving it. I also participate in arts festivals and I love doing them, I love talking to people about art, getting their immediate input and see the way my art moves them and how they react. And then I get inspired to paint and some people get inspired to go home and paint which I love. Each of my paintings has a big of me in them, I can’t help it and the more I paint the more I have to give. It makes my heart happy. 
And I love to paint, that spine tingling moment when the right combination of colours appears and I know ‘this is it’. By painting in this way, and sharing my story of how I overcame self doubt and self sabotage I hope to inspire others to do the same, and I hope my paintings create joy too!!
 

 

Thankyou so much Janine for telling me about your process and the background to your work…….amazing to have you here….


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Carry on Painting

 

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I’m painting again, fresh new canvases arrived last week. I have never painted on canvas before, only sheets of hardboard stolen from my partners workshop. I told myself that when I sell a painting, I can buy canvases…I’ve sold two, so I did!

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Just the first fresh, spontaneous layers, having fun, no planning , just intuition and freedom seeing what happens, no pressure to perform.

 

And I was excited to be featured on artist Janine Adamo’s blog as her Artist of the week read my interview here  

Next week you can find out all about her, as I will post her interview here!! And in following weeks, two more artists  to read about. I love to discover the processes behind a piece of art, the background , the artists story, what drives them, why they need to paint or draw or create.

Its short today; huge changes are afoot in our lives, planets are shifting I’m sure, angels are dancing, and that’s about all I can say for now…except my new Tarot pack arrived today The Wild Unknown 

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Which I’m super excited about .

 

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Just perfect for my deepening immersion in the mysteries of the Tarot with Arcarnum

More next time,

Love Henrietta xx


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The call of the wild

A healthy woman is much like a wolf, strong life force, life-giving, territorily aware, intuitive and loyal. Yet separation from her wildish nature causes a woman to become meager, anxious, and fearful. The wild nature carries the medicine for all things • Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women who run with wolves

Wolf Howl. Anime by lovetoberandom

We are all wild. Deep in our psyche, embedded in our genetic makeup, swirling with abandon in our souls, the wildness is there in all of us. We were born to be carefree, vigorous,  thriving and strong people, fertile with creativity, physicality, sexuality . Our natural urges and desires to rest, work, mate, play and eat and create, were born expect to be met, and  to find satisfaction. We were born to be in connection, to nature, to each other, to ourselves.

Wild: free, unfettered, feral, ‘uncivilised’ distracted, crazy, undomestictaed, ‘of unrestrained violence’ . Some of these are my definitions, some are from the dictionary, my favourite, ‘living in a state of nature’

 

See, these words have developed connotations. Depending on your social circle, describing someone as wild is not necessarily complimentary. Out of control, following her instincts, unrestrained by society’s conventions and boundaries, unsafe, fear inducing the wild eye in the night, the crazy women might come and eat you, the wild unknown figure ravening tooth and claw, insatiable appetite all consuming force of nature , a law unto himself…OUT OF CONTROL.

Hands up who likes to be in control? Hands up who likes to be controlled? Who feels out of control..is that ‘good’ or ‘bad?

And out of whose control…ours or other people’s/society’s rules and expectations?

But I’m not  talking about charging through red traffic lights and causing accidents, or  throwing crockery around when we get mad at the kids …..or standing in the middle of the grocery shop and screaming…although I’ve often felt like it and really it would be good to express emotions where and whenever they come up. What would happen if I did..would I be led out by security and sedated, or would someone give me a hug and a cup of tea? Or would I be ignored? the silent English tacit understanding that we don’t do that and feel really quite uncomfortable if anyone else does.I wish I had the courage to try it.

What would it be like to scream when I need to, to hug cry laugh dance sing shout run and jump WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT? I’m probably a very repressed Anglo Saxon, but I know how hard I would find it to just follow any spontaneous inclination that came to me. But I do know how my body feels when I repress an emotion or desire, the strangled swelling of my throat when I swallow unbidden tears in ‘innappropriate’  places, the constriction in my gut when I don’t say  what I feel, the ache in my hips and lower back when I am uncomfortable in a situation and don’t let myself move my body and let the tension out.

If it feels bad, its not right. Its not natural to repress feelings, needs and desires.  I do feel under pressure to do so, and I guess its a journey to tread ever closer to an equilibrium which feels comfortable.

I started this post intending to talk about my longing to be close to the land, but I got side tracked! But actually its not a distraction at all. Getting close to nature, living in it, dropping to my knees in the damp undergrowth, inhaling the aliveness, mossy mystery and fragrant earthy fertility of the land, that’s wildness. Its a pathway to wildness. Its a way I can feel more alive, more in tune with myself, a calling back to my true deep wild self, hidden under all those layers of expectation, convention, compromises, all that domesticity. I’ve been thoroughly domesticated , removed from the forest floor and put in a house and told to flush the toilet and shave my armpits and don’t trust anyone else, and above all WORRY ABOUT WHAT THE NEIGHBOURS THINK.

A fox doesn’t check its watch to see if its dinnertime when it catches the scent of a toothsome vole; a night jar doesn’t fret about disturbing the neighbours when it fills the dusk with its sweetness, a primrose doesn’t hold back for March the 12th when it’s ready to bloom, and a rabbit doesn’t wait until the kids are in bed and not watching. Well, it doesn’t.

 

“The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.” — Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

I can feel that door is ajar and a wild warm figure is beckoning me. Losing my daughter Lily prised through the rusted door, corroded and swelled shut, papered over with a confusion of ivy. But the wiry tendrils hang loosely now, over the door, a veil which admits the sparkling promise of a true deep life. The scar is deep and it is a door.

The longing to be free and unrestrained, with my feet in the silver waters of a great lake, my face turned to the flight of the eagle and my body cooled by the autumn winds of change. The longing for the darkness and solitude of the trees and the wild woods.  Let’s dive deep into the forest dear friend…..deeper into the wildness of ourselves. What will we find??

 

 

 


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Daily practice and procrastination

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I need a daily practice. People always talk about them right? Its the smooth groove of repetitious action which creates growth and change, ..which creates rhythm and productivity, the discipline of habit. The ease of it, knowing that each day I will clean my teeth before I got to bed, I will apply moisturizing cream before I go to bed in a last tired sweep of my face soothing  and closing my face down before dropping deep down into the night …of many awakenings. I have a multiple times a day washing up practice, but I don’t think that counts. But it does prove a point, that I need pressure and incentive to perform. In that case a need for clean plates.

Blog challenges, sketchbook challenges, daily Art practice practice, its all there, but how do I find the time? There’s almost too much inspiration. Too many deliriously delicious distractions to tempt me and fill my head with colour and words.

So what’s stopping me, I know it would help, I know it has helped, I know that my precious creative work would progress better if I did, SO WHY DON’T I?

Procrastination..hmm…when I suddenly find myself cleaning the toilet on the precious day, well, morning, without kids, and taking too long to make a green smoothie and oh, just sweeping the stairs and collecting mouldy coffee cups from teen bedrooms. The hours go by and the pages wait for me. I need them but they don’t need me, so they don’t come running to look for me, that s my job. Its also my job to clean the toilet, but I can do that any time. It’s my job to keep the myriad of tendrils and shoots sprouting daily from this hydra household trimmed and orderly, and match the socks of course. BUT I DON’T HAVE TO DO IT IN MY CREATIVE TIME.

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I am aware just how much I moan about time and how little I have, and while that is true…I am also aware that even as I write these words, I pause and let my eyes stray to the patch of dust next to my chest of drawers and almost, almost leap up to fetch a brush to deal with it. Its just so much easier, you see, to sweep and moan about having too much housework than sit the hell down and get my pen or paint brush out. It really is.  But I don’t enjoy the feeling I get at the end of an afternoon trailing around the house tidying-when -I-need to- be-creating; its sort of full and restless and uncomfortable, like  I just ate too much cheese and took no exercise. The complete opposite in fact of the luscious yummy melting tingling dancey feeling I get when I have just got that  delicious harmony of words just singing together sweeter than the dawn chorus, or the hare emerging on my painting actually has a character I want to get to know, and looks like he’d jump off and hang out with me for a while. That’s a good feeling. Like drinking a mango banana smoothie with bee pollen and going to a 5 rhythms dance.

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So why so difficult to get to that point. I know I’m not alone. There are self help books and articles by the oodles to guide all us procrastinators out of the thickets of coffee making, internet surfing and toilet cleaning.

I checked out the definition of procrastination according to Wikipedia and here it is:

Procrastination is the practice of carrying out less urgent tasks in preference to more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones, and thus putting off impending tasks to a later time, sometimes to the “last minute” before the deadline. ‘

The bit that tickles me is the  ‘doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable…..

Why would I prefer cleaning the lav to painting?

A little while ago I received a free gift of ‘The War of Art’ by Steven Pressfield, and it shocked my eyes wide open. If you write, paint, play music, create beautiful woven tapestries or create  needle felted farm animals and this is your calling…read this book…if you find it hard to get to your desk, easel, loom in the mornings…read this book. If you find yourself saying..oh I’ll start tomorrow, when I have enough money in the bank, when I ditch my partner, when I have more time….read this book.

Well he calls it Resistance…that’s what’s going on. According to Pressfield the higher and more urgent and important to us that our calling or work is, the greater the resistance to it will be.

‘Resistance only obstructs movement from a lower to a higher sphere, it kicks in when we seek to pursue a calling in the arts, launch an innovative enterprise…evolve to a higher station….’

So it obstructs me painting when I am scrubbing shit. Resistance wants me in the bathroom. So I have to be stronger.

And its true…the more important I know something to be to be, the greater the pull away I feel. So much so that sometimes, when I get that ‘aha’ moment I will physically rise from my desk and walk away, because its just too much. Too scarey. Its scarey to have power to know I could be big, to know I have it in me to be a success at what I do, and inspire others while I do it. Its big and its easier to walk away and eat a biscuit.

 

Pressfield goes on to talk about trouble…accidents, lateness getting into trouble, creating drama as forms of resistance. Which got me thinking …..there have been some big events in my life, I move house alot, I have a broken marriage, my car breaks down alot, technology can sometimes ‘not work’ for me. Now maybe I’m taking this a bit too far but its something to think about. All these things take up huge amounts of time….like reading this post is for you no doubt, I’ve just crossed the 1000 word barrier, so back to daily practice.

I know I need to write and paint and create, and so I will….

…..give myself some outer limits for pottering, ie ten minutes max to create some sort of vague order around my work station, then  a deadline and a time limit.

…..not need to make three hot drinks and a smoothie before I start, a cup of tea is permissible.

…..write an affirmation to pin to my mirror along the lines of…’I shine when I create, I am an artist..’

…..make sure I get some ‘being’ time. Because all this mothering, homeedding, multitasking, breastfeeding and creating can drain every ounce of energy and inspiration out of me, and just sitting, or taking a walk, or even sleeping…can be pretty useful to the process too!!

I’ve joined a daily art challenge, online, so I am accounted for, and I am committing, TODAY to you and more importantly to myself, to write for at least 30 minutes a day….and that is a challenge. No matter if its by head torch with match stick propped eyes at midnight, or standing at the kitchen counter chopping onions with my teeth, or sneaking an extra few minutes in the bathroom…I will do it. And I’ll try not to use so many capitals next time.

So how about you…what are your daily practices and how do you fight resistance and procrastination to achieve them. I need tips!!

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