Island Blog – A Vulnerable Courage

Chilly today even as the temperature rises a degree or two. It’s the wind and rain that do it. Although I light the fire early, I keep moving on principle and to keep my blood, bones and muscles believing they are yet miles from turning 68. It’s not easy in four frocks. It’s funny how warm frocks can be and how much heavier four are than one. It took me a while to layer correctly, allowing each hem to show itself just a peep and the process was very artfully managed, even if I do say so myself.

I lift the tarp from the outside Woodstock and fill the barrow enough times to bring the spirit level up on the inside wood box. We are both jolly now, both spirit levels high. I return the tarp, fixing it down at the corners with old dog leads and determination. Come Gale, come Rain, Come Sleet and do your worst! Me and the outside Woodstock are more than prepared for your incoming insults, that skirt-lifting ‘wheech’ that can render light dry logs to dark mush in a surprisingly short time. I walk with the same attitude. I know it is possible to buy little weights to hold a frock down, which sounds like a real faff, but if I choose the right outwear for the weather I am not usually de-frocked, nor even mildly embarrassed. I have my crimson long johns on anyway so there would be no chance for any walker or wood sprite to glimpse my never-to-be-seen-agains.

I sew some more patches for another baby playmat. These playmats have gainfully employed my fingers and my brain for most of lockdown, all the lockdowns, and it is my greatest pleasure to assemble the patches, six wide, 8 long, to measure (usually wrongly) the padding and the backing material to fit, in theory, and thence to sit before my trusty and uncomplaining sewing machine who will chatter away as she transforms the parts into a whole. My stitching is always wonky chops and the machine will growl at corners where the padding is likely to bunch somewhat. But, generally speaking, we succeed and the completed mat, jaunty with unicorns, daisies, stripes, dots and fairies in blues, greens, pinks, reds and yellows is a treat to the eyes. Then I wash the quilt/playmat, dry and iron it. I fashion a cloth bag with drawstring and the gift is complete. Now I must needs locate a baby. This could get me into trouble if I pick the wrong words. It isn’t, I explain, as I sense or see hesitation, that I want a baby, nor to steal someone else’s, no, no, not at all. It can take a few minutes to reassure. Fortunately there seem to be plenty of babies due in Feb, March, April, May and June, and I am ready for each one.

I listen to a TED talk on vulnerability. I love these talks and this one by Brene Brown is excellent. I have learned as I pad slowly away from bereavement that grief can come in disguise. I am not crying after all. My pillow is not soaked every night and I don’t see Himself in ghostly form along corridors nor hear his voice. I am not sentimental about the things he liked or kept about his person. I feel no nostalgia, no sharp of pain as a letter arrives addressed to him. So you are not grieving you weirdo? Ah, not quite true. There are things I am more aware of now such as fear of being able to cope alone, of lonely times, boredom and a sense of loss; a where am I going sort of awareness. I reply to How Are You with I’m Doing Well. And I am. I have no intention of describing the terrain in which I now find myself, lost upon hundreds of miles of wasteland, sky-tipping mountains, glacial tundra, burning desert, cold dark streets in the wrong part of town at 3 am mid-winter. All of these apply and more, but none of them all of the time. They are just glimpses, coming suddenly from behind or meeting me head on in a doorway. This is normal, I tell myself. You are on the way to somewhere you have never been, never seen before. How could you possibly know either the way or what the destination will look like? There is no brochure for this, no pretty pictures. You have to trust and to keep going, keep frocking up, keep laughing, keep believing, learning, questing. Be curious, eat and sleep well, read good books, listen to music, that sort of thing. Be Vulnerable, for vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. Thank you Brene Brown for that firework of wisdom.

It has fair lit up my sky this day.

One thought on “Island Blog – A Vulnerable Courage

  1. Ha! I just finished listening to a Brene Brown podcast before I sat to read this! A wise woman, that Brene! Vulnerability is the scariest thing whether we know it or admit it. Judy, you are facing your new chapter sharing your vulnerability with us, and we are so grateful! You share with courage, honesty and humor! Thank you! ~ Susan

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