Island Blog – Nothing Else Matters

My life is golden, a flower, one that has lain dormant (but plotting) for many soggy months, one that is now above ground, looking up and out towards summer. I have seen oh so many summers but this one is new to me and I can feel the fizz of excitement in anticipation. As I sit on the stoep, feeling the warmth of Father Sun on my bare skin and watching seabirds wheel and cant, hear the chase-off when a buzzard comes in to their air space, or a sea-eagle, I smile and whisper a thank you. As I hear a distant woodpecker nattering at deadwood in a call for a mate or see siskin and goldfinch on the nijer seed, I feel the free space around my body for I am a part of this burgeoning Spring day. I listen to my neighbours enjoying a barbecue with friends, a just over the hedge spiral of shared talk and laughter as their little ones demand another rib or a water pistol and I smile through my happy solitude. I see the sea-loch calm and soft beneath a wide sky and wonder about the life beneath the surface. I think about ‘surface’, the way I can see something that appears to be the truth only to discover that it is anything but, like the way I might think a person is until I get to hear their story. So much depth, so much history, so much about experiences I have never had nor ever will. I hear the words, Be Careful, in my head and I will. Be Care Full. I want everyone to know the peace I feel, the acceptance of a life golden because for those of us who do not face danger every single minute, nor abuse, we who have a home, a place in space, enough food in the fridge and our health and strength, our memories and our family do indeed live a golden life. A daffodil life. We can rise through the sog and bog of winter into a new timeline, a new day every day. We can walk in freedom and, if we have eyes to see, we can watch it all in awe and gratitude. We cannot change the lives of all those millions of others who have not even one of our life gifts but we can spend time appreciating our own, noticing them, naming them, listing them.

My children and theirs are well and happy. My siblings ditto. I have friends, moon rises, sunsets, tasks to complete, people to encourage, letters to write that will be received with a smile, frogspawn to move before it dries out a thousand tadpoles, supper to choose, music to listen to, a beloved dog to walk with and to cuddle. In this world right now, all of those are privileged gifts. To whom much is given, much is expected. I get it. I really do. To be thankful, mindfully thankful despite loss and a mucky past, despite the inner demons that have no power unless I give it to them, is key. Key to what? The door to the next big adventure, that’s what, and we all have one of those just around the corner. Life is golden for any of us who are not running from war, from abuse, from ethnic cleansing, from a painful past, but even they, one day, will find the golden. Let us who have it now rise into the sunshine because the truth is this:-

Nothing else matters.

Island Blog – Wave the White Flag

When I write about me I don’t. I write with the knowing that many others feel as I feel, move as I move through the days of this and that, of should I or should I absolutely not, and if I go for the absolutely not, what then? In the days of change, we all know the insecurity of that question, the wobbly boards we navigate to what we hope is safe ground. It might take weeks, months, years. It might be a decision to change from a job we hate, or a relationship we have been unhappy in for years. It might be the death of a longtime partner. The bullet ricochet of that one is something else and I will tell you why. You think you can manage, you believe you will suddenly become who you were before. But this is a lie. As is the belief in the transcode of such a conversion. (From verb to noun, apologies grammar buffs)for nothing happens easy. The first decision to step out into the heretofore unknown, even if observed in others’ journeys, is massively brave. You think there is a cliff and you see your foot out there in space. The fall? Is a killing one for sure. But, but and but again, once you let go, once you give up, wave the white flag and surrender, you look back down again and chuckle. This cliff is but a fault line, a nothing, a thing you could have leapt across as a toddler. You step out. You don’t fall at all. Even you could never fall through such a tiny skint in the landscape of your life. Remember that.

I have watched all of my children on that cusp and, because I recognise it so well, I just said, Go. Step out. Let go. Wave the white flag. Surrender to your imagined fears for they will not follow you. They are imagined and they are nothing but whispers in the dust of your past the moment you take that first step. And the surrender is pivotal. We resist our fears, let them consume us, guide us. T’is a mistake. Another mistake is to deny our fears, our very real fears. We might fear enclosed spaces. We might fear patriarchal domination. We might fear matriarchal domination. The two latter will come back to bite us in the workplace, in relationships, in new friendships or of being suddenly and terminally alone. We might fear spiders or open spaces or crowds or travel or so many other things. All of these and more are real and need to be respected. There may well be a psychological explanation for our fears but that doesn’t stop the fearing of them. Logic does not help. We know the logic. The thing is to say YES, I fear this!

Thus, as a fearing one, I have learned the power of giving up to my fear, of waving the white flag, of saying Yes, I fear you. And what that means to me is this. I speak it out, not to others but to myself. I claim it, this fear, I acknowledge it, I affirm it. I say, hallo, in you come. I have fought you for so long and I am weary of the fight. So we talk. And, when the time is right and I decide to wave the white flag, I find a turning. It is as if I have just made friends with a long term enemy who was never an enemy at all, just one who was challenging me in order for me to move on.

So in conclusion. Giving up is not giving in. And there was me thinking they were conjoined against me.

Island Blog – The Last to Leave the Dance Floor

Around my home the fragrance of Spring is an olfactory delight. Every room sings me daffodils. My garden sways with them and bunches arrive for my birthday. As I arrange them in vases, I consider their spacing with a view to the final picture, correcting myself from time to time. I never was a ‘shove-em-in’ sort of woman. I like presentation and flow, design and a sort of roundness that tells me I am probably OCD around the flower arranging thing. I might be thus around other things but that doesn’t fuss me now, even as it does think me about a book and its cover. Let me explain.

As I walk in the still cold wind, but not so cold as to beg a jacketty coverance, what I think I see is randomness, in the woods, along the banks, beside the shore, where various shrubs, trees and plants are exploding through the ground in a shout for life. Maybe ‘exploding’ is a bit ott. It is, to be honest, a more cautious peek out and no surprise there for the slice and dice artic wind is not gone yet back to wherever he takes his raggedy old destructive self as we welcome Mother Spring. His bite is one of anger and rage, of sudden ice, of ha ha and you thought you were safe to show your colours. Mean. But he can come in this month, oh hell yes, he can come and we must stand vigil, sniffing the weather and just knowing, as we once did before diesel fumes and light pollution turned us into eejits.

But I am wrong to think that anything in nature is random. It is anything but. I get that we randomise merrily away inside the confines of our garden, forcing intelligent plants to grow in all the wrong places, sentencing them to gigantic effortness that will never produce good blooms, but out there in the wild places, new life will explode into beauty and a future in which we have had no hand at all. I like that. So as I wander beneath some ancient larches that are pushing out buds I recognise their intelligence. Here is sheltered, both from strong wind and from ice wind. There, not so. Therefore the buds are still holding, holding, because a blast would ping them off into the nothing.

I notice my thoughts, about 200 thousand a minute. I watch fat trunks pass by, ancient and strong, moss covered, they who have stood for a hundred years. They may be bent and leaning somewhat, but I bet they are not fussed about how they look. They don’t bother with a mirror to tell them how wonkychops they are now. They don’t care for such nonsense. Their sole purpose is to stay alive through whatever ice slice dice weather comes their way. They are grounded but not trapped. And that thinks me. As we grow older, things will go wonkychops. They will. And, in knowing this, we have a choice. We can fuss and fret and btw get mildly histericous about turning 50, a year I uninhabited almost 20 years ago, or we can decide to dance whatever. My thoughts are all about my kids now and their kids. This is my world and what a world. It doesn’t matter how I look. They don’t care. It’s all about me showing up. Like the push for life in Spring.

And on we go, until we stop and, just fyi, I will be the last one to leave the dance floor.

Island Blog – Make fire

Himself used to call this time of year the dying time. What he meant was that we all think it’s spring when spring is still hiding, holding back. Perhaps it is different in Englandshire, although with the extraordinary changes in our collective weather patterns, I am guessing it is not as it once was. Perhaps the early lambing now needs to be within the safety of a barn because the weather changes are not easily predicted. We cannot say it will be fine today anymore. There is intempestivity in our world, a windswept tumble, a helterskelter and we are the receivers of such, grounded as we are in our tacketty boots and our waterproof trews. We walk in sunshine and then suddenly, in a nanosecond, a black sky chucks hail at us, hail that would kill a lamb. It did and often unless a skilled shepherd was always on watch.

Himself could read the skies. I loved his knowledge even as I took it completely for granted. Can I hang out the washing? Hmmm, you have two hours. We need to ready about now (sailor term) right now, and there I was, shifting from one side to the other of the sailing boat, bringing over the boom, pulling ropes, fastening other things to other things so we didn’t capsize. He was always right. And when he was out there in the killing time, when calves were fighting to survive and lambs were the pickings for ravens and crows, not to mention the sleet and freezing winds, he stayed and watched like a mother. I guess he was another mother, one with the choice to save those who were faltering before another bone chilling night out there in the wild open. Although I might have, back then, grumped about yet another ewe and lamb to rub down, to feed and to warm, what with five feral children to find and to scrub for tomorrow’s school, his attention to his animals was impressive.

This time of a weatherly sleight of hand in ‘False Spring’ terms was also the time our beloved heavy horse sank into a bog. If you have read my book you will know she should never have been way out there on the shore, not at this time of tapselteerie, when new grass leaps up to a suddeningly warm sun only to be dashed back down to pulp after a 2 minute hail blast and accompanying wind. I hear her welcoming whinny still, sense the warm cave of her back for a slow ride home to hay and shelter. She rumbles on like an aftershock. She is remembered, respected and honoured. And her memory brings me back to the now. There are events in all of our lives we might rather not remember, but we do. Any cut between ourself and another, a permanent one, is a shock, like an earthquake. We move on, of course we do, if we can, but something we might find hard to understand are the aftershocks. They can hit us like a hailstorm in spring, one that batters and bends and breaks the inner daffodils that looked so strong and safe in this morning’s warm sunshine. We learn like students in a new school how to live with and beyond the aftershocks, faltering, awkwarding, turning away and hiding, but eventually we emerge in a shape we don’t recognise until we do. It only takes a look in a shop window to say oh Hallo You, there you are. And that is enough.

The aftershocks keep coming. They come unbidden, unsought, but they come. A crocus bloom through snow, a line in a song, something someone says, the lift of a bird, the sudden green buds of a larch tree that weren’t there yesterday and the ground rises up beneath us, confounding our feet. The wind is still cold, the hail right up there all encased in a frickin big black cloud moving right towards me, but I can see this green and I am sticking with the green. The hope. The hail, the tempests, the sinking down, the longing, the what-the heck of things will not tamp my flame. Not as long as I know how to make fire. I do. And you do too.

Island Blog – Taradiddle Tapselteerie

I like an oppositional perspective on life and deem it apposite in this instance. I also love words and playing with them, using them here and there like stepping stones, no, more like hopscotch. I realise I might leave a reader behind, baffled, bored, thinking me an arrogant wordy nerd. I bow to this. But my love of words knows no bounds even if I have to dictionary a whole lot of them. They come into my head just like that. Just like Taraddidle and Tapselteerie and then I must needs ruffle through everything up to the T pages to find their meaning. Why did, do, they come to me, all random and naked of meaning? I believe I hear the music in them, the beat, and not the memory of English Language A level, which I never took because I was unceremoniously expelled prior to the exam.

The whole oppositional perspective on life thingy is easier to explain, I think, even if redemption is not necessarily in sight. And here it is. I am not a balanced type of woman, nor was I, even as a girl. I am either on the ceiling or deep underground. It is exhausting, but, nonetheless, it is me, it is I, I am me and I am I, and if I could just get myself clear on that I just might find a home. And suddenly this knowledge laughs me because it tells me something important. I am already home and this home is me. I can make it just as I choose. I can high fence it or let everyone in. I can pepper my garden with wildflowers or let it all die. I can paint the stucco, decorate the garden furniture, even sass up the wheelie bins, or I can not bother all. The choice is mine alone, me and I.

Distilling this down to that moment when the fierce bubbling calms to a reduction, I see something. I see the imbalance of life and not just my own. I know for certain that many others present as ‘fine’ when they are anything but I get it, for who wants to invite delving questions demanding answers we don’t want to give? And it is……oh, hold, the cliche words rise in me, the ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ for which I immediately apologise. So what words do we need when we need them? Well, probably none. We are up, we are down. It’s not a good thing to pretend we are balanced when we are not but if we keep it all in it does us no service.

To acknowledge Taraddidle and Tapselteerie has worked for me. I feel the beat of them, hear their music. It’s my ladder up when the snake takes me down because I am not one, not the other, but both.

Island Blog – A 3 Frock Day

The wind is up and my wheelies are dancing. Only yesterday I freed them from their storm restraint, a rope affixed around their bellies and secured to my fence with chandler’s hook thingies that would normally keep boats from taking off to Holland. I forget their names. I was certain the gales had stopped and it laughs me as I watch the newly freed and recently emptied bins having a blast out there. My fence is smirking at me, I know that look. As a new gust, circa 40 knots, barrels up the loch, one bin, then the next open and shut their mouths. I can’t hear what they say but they are definitely talking. Or laughing.

It’s a three frock day for me, as I cannot risk going out there with anything light and floaty. Light and floaty could bring on an exposure I would rather not experience and nor would anyone else who happened to be nearby. And yet walking in high winds is exhilarating so I will still go out to watch the skinny trees bend towards each other, towards me, creaking and groaning like old women at a WRI meeting. There’s always lots of chat on gale days. The mail might not arrive and the ferry may not run. We are used to this even if it is an infuriation to the best laid plans. Deciding to pop over to the mainland for a shopping spree can lose its shine if a person is still over there 3 days later without a spare pair of knickers and a dog shut up at home. We live dramatically on the island. Nothing is ever a given and I think that’s what makes us so enterprising and so ready to help each other out.

There was no indication yesterday afternoon that a gale was filling its lungs in preparation for a dawning onslaught. The barometer read ‘Set Fair’, and this morning it shouts ‘Hooligan’. I don’t mind so much if I have warning, the time to batten down flapping things, but coming all of a sudden is just plain rude. Birds are flying backwards or in scoops and dives and the bird seed is half way out to sea by now. The feeders swing like ships lanterns in a force 10 and any bird that dares to catch on must feel bilious. I do, just watching them and am very thankful that I can eat a poached egg from a dependably calm and static plate.

The sea-loch is a rise of spume and irritable wavelets, wind blasting over the incoming tide, a conflict of interest. Geese honk over the house and I have no idea how they manage to stay the right way up. If I was up there I would be spinning like a top. It’s hard enough to remain the right way up with two feet on the ground and 3 frocks for ballast. But the weather up here is what keeps me balanced which may sound bizarre until you understand that the capricious sudden-ness of it has become the norm. When visitors rapture on about a beautiful sunshine day of calm and tweeting, they don’t see the truth. Make the most of today, I smile at them. Tomorrow could lose someone their garden shed. They eye me as they might a crazy woman. Sometimes they decide to move up here based on the untruth and then they meet the winter which begins in November and might possibly depart mid May. Endless rain, persistent gales to excite the wheelie bins and power cuts are all a given but we who know this are usually prepared. We have nourishing soup on the hob, loads of frocks and a great attitude. Or we don’t live here at all.

I could live nowhere else.

Island Blog – A Wonder and a Mystery

During these past two days of almost warm sunshine, no rain and blue skies, I have loved walking among the trees and along the shore. Gulls wheel above the tidal dance and it seems to me that every tree I pass beneath is bursting to push out leaves. However, the night frosts are sharp and I get their caution. Primrose leaves are now showing along the banks in sheltered spots, sheltered that is from the still cold wind and the daffodils open with big buttery smiles as the sun brings his warmth to their soft petals. I dare to believe that Spring is almost here and I am glad of it, not just because February tried to drown us all but also because of the long covid cloak that has darkened our days, months and years recently. Like others I have spoken to, the covid time is a blur. When I am asked how long ago Himself left the planet, I have to think hard. It’s as if time didn’t count herself. She just laid herself out before and behind us, not interested enough to make any particular mark.

However, during these timeless and dark days, the colours that shone bright and sparkly came from us, from human endeavour and resourcefulness. Instead of everyone playing sheep, individual enterprises and personal challenges rose up like flowers in the winter and were no less surprising. I heard about it on the radio and would find myself leaning in to really hear what this or that person was doing, stretching their minds and bodies in order to bring encouragement and inspiration to others. It has been tough, all of it, the dark, the fear, the lack of information, the doubts and the dithering but we have got through it, and well. Most of us. Of course there are very sad tales to tell, I know that and I am sad for the sad ones who endured bereavement and pain. But what excites me is the rise of human endeavour, not just by a few, but by millions. This is who we are and how we can live if we stop wishing the nanny state away whilst buying into it ourselves.

Any day now the larch buds will appear like tiny purple grapes. The horse chestnut, often the first to bloom, will show that gloriously uplifting snatch of green way up high on myriad branches. Then as if given permission, the other trees will follow. Delicate lurpak coloured primrose flowers will thrill passers by, including me. Then the garden will erupt and careen into real Spring allowing no time for me to catch up with the weeds and I will sit on the old bench, remember Himself who used to sit beside me and smile because whatever comes and whoever goes, Life will live on and there’s a wonder and a mystery in knowing that.

Island Blog – Ageing and the Big Adventure

The way I see it is this. There are 3 stages to life. First off we are born without a clue until we learn from parents and others who reckon they know everything about everything. The second phase is spent in rebelling against parents and others who reckon they know everything about everything until everyone is muddled. Then comes the last phase, the one of unlearning. It is a complicated process, sifting through all the stuff we have had drummed into our heads, then rebelled against in various unattractive ways. In fact, it is nigh on impossible to spin out such a thixotropic frame of mind because we have grown comfortably numb, wearing the familiar like an old coat, protection against the cold winds of life. Scrabbling through the old rules, the old patterns of behaviour, the routines and the ways our mother did it, or her mother or that before-mother who would have fainted clean away at the very thought of women in trousers, never mind see-through bikinis or no bikinis at all, is perplexing. A brain in knots. There are centuries of accepted norms to un norm, tangles of dense forestation to push through, ribbons and threads and chains to cut. It is tempting to give up. So what we do is one of two things. We decide to accept that we are a product of all those mothers and those fathers going all the way back to the Crimea or we park the lot and reinvent ourselves.

This, the latter, is huge fun. I can be anyone I want, more or less, excluding (obviously) Madonna, the Queen or Jessica Limewater the horse whisperer from County Down along with many others whose lives are not even remotely connected to my own. I am still me after all, living where I live, looking like I do with the same car, dog and home I have had for years. But a reinvention is an inner thing primarily I have found even as it can manifest its colouration, density and texture on the outside. A person may decide, after deciding to have fun with this, to start growing long sideburns or to wear jeans instead of those shiny suit trousers. He or she might choose a new diet, learn to play the tuba or take a course in Poetry for Beginners. It doesn’t really matter what is embarked upon. The key is to embark for embarking’s sake, to step out of the old even if the new is nowhere in sight. I remember my mum saying (often) that she did ‘it’ this way because her mother did it that way. Do you want to do it this way? I questioned. She shrugged. That’s not the point she said, turning back to the thing she wasn’t watching on television. It puzzled me, this unthinking way of life, the powerful hold of it, the refusal to change. When the programme was over I asked her if she enjoyed it. Oh, she said, I didn’t pay attention. Good Lord……..

In being whoever I want to be, bar those aforementioned, I can make my own mind up about pretty much everything unless, I have noticed, there is a man in the mix with definite opinions. This I now understand, having lived with men of definite opinions all of my life, to be a ribbon to the past. Once I notice it, I snip it. Even if the man is right and I get it wrong, I still want to find out for myself. I am curious about all those things from which I was ‘protected’ and besides, living just a bit dangerously is very exciting. There is a glorious euphoria in finally managing to do whatever it is the way I choose to do it. It may have taken weeks instead of minutes but it is my work and my way.

I can change the way I speak out now. I can challenge and make clear my boundaries. However, this third stage of life doesn’t always bounce along. Folk are surprised. Let’s say I was a doormat and they knew the doormat. It was a familiar doormat and everyone felt fine about wiping their feet on it. Lifting it and setting fire to it can be an unnerving upset for these folk. She has turned weird, they say whilst keeping their distance. However, there is a downside to the third stage and it’s a damn shame coming as it does just when a person is finally free to leap across rooftops singing bawdy songs into the night sky and startling the neighbours. This downside is is that the body is ageing and although bits are not falling off yet, they do ache or stiffen or bruise more easily. Fortunately I am not required to leap fences or rooftops any more, nor to offload a ton of hay bales but this doesn’t mean I can sit around all day bemoaning my not yet falling off bits that ache or stiffen or bruise. If I do focus on them then they will become my main think pattern and before long those thinks will turn into long sentences, spilling out of my mouth every time any poor soul asks me how I am. They also must not turn me into a beggar for sympathy. I ask a simple question with a yes/no response option. My mistake. ‘I don’t want to do Zumba but thanks for asking’ is response enough, whereas ‘Oh I wish, but I can’t because of my knee, yes this one. It’s Pamperloid Arthritis, have you heard of it, no? with complications, a big long list of them and it swells in the night, the knee not the list although it is a very long list and my mother had it in both knees poor soul and she had to stop doing school dinners and I have to sit for ages with it up, the knee that is and it’s at the wrong time you see, the Zumba that is, because East Enders is on that day so I have to get my husband’s tea ready early and it can’t be fish because fish doesn’t sit so it has to be mince which cooks itself and is kinder on my knee, not the mince but the standing’ is exhausting for both of us. I regret my question and just might be coming down with a knee issue myself.

So, no excuses about ageing. We all do it. Some of us get old before we are middle aged and some stay young at heart, dodgy knees notwithstanding. Getting old is not pretty, not really. Looking, as I occasionally do, into my magnifying mirror, I can no longer see the girl and this can either make me laugh or send me into a long term slump. I must decide to live all the way up to the end, choose my thinks, reinvent myself, consider my ‘how are you’ responses and get the hell out of myself ready for the next big adventure.

Island Blog – Me and the Monkey

There is something I am working on as I consider the human dynamic – the misbelief that our thoughts are in control. It is nonsense. Let’s say that one day I suddenly feel awful. I acknowledge that I feel awful and that’s fine so far because the awful carries a message and a question. However, it is very easy to stop at the message bit and to construct a belief below and around it, giving it space and power. If we don’t ask the question we are at the mercy of this awful. We might tell a friend thus reinforcing the construct, giving it an upper floor so it is harder to see the sun, and although it is okay to tell a friend it is not okay to build on the feeling. A good friend will listen, hug and assist in the deconstruction. The fixing bit is entirely up and down to you and to me. So what is the question? Well the one I ask, after recognising the awful is ‘What just happened to make me feel this way? Am I hungry, tired, bored, lonely? If one of these hits the spot then action is required. Eat something, take a nap, find something to do, call a friend, go for a walk, make soup, anything to apply salve to the perceived wound. What not to do is to build another level nor to project outside of self in a frantic attempt to not take responsibility. There are probably too many nots in that last sentence.

Our brains are just computers, completely devoid of emotion. First comes the thought, ‘I made a right cock-up of that thing’. Then follows the feeling, compounding and validating the thought. Third comes the action and that can be finger pointing at circumstance, weather, self etc etc or it can be approached mindfully in ways that don’t deny the feeling, rather saying hallo to it and asking ‘why are you here really and are you helpful or relevant to me right now; are you moving me on or holding me back; are you real at all or did I just stub my toe, feel the pain and sob out ancient grief?’ Oftentimes our thoughts leading to feelings are not helpful in the Now, unless, that is, we notice each one, particularly those that bring us down, say hallo and ask the question or questions.

It can be so easy to let the brain take control at times, but once we remember that the only person who controls my brain is me, I take back my power. It does mean inner work, I get that, and so many folk just aren’t prepared to innerly work, living out reactive lives whilst feeling generally miserable. I don’t want that. Well nobody wants that but it takes conscious thought and a lot of noticing to keep the brain under control. When something kicks the legs out from under me I can forget this, momentarily, but not for long because I am doing the inner work. I need to. Falling apart, not that I ever will, is not an option, but it’s more than that for me. I want a fulfilling and dynamic life at the mercy of nobody, of nothing. I have heard people talk of a difficult work mate or boss and how this person or that is responsible for their unhappiness. Although it does make me sad to hear of anyone being consistently unhappy, I know their state of mind has nothing to do with the difficulties around certain people. The real truth is that this person, through low self-esteem very probably formed in childhood, does actually have complete control if they but knew it, not over the difficult other but over the way they respond to that other. A bully won’t bully if he or she meets inner strength. A bully sees weakness and plays on it, and inner strength is silent and needs no words in order to be clearly heard. It’s not about fighting back which never works and all about not reacting. Easily said, I know, but it works every time.

Inside my head there are two voices, mine and the monkey’s. The monkey is always alert and ready for mischief. I must control the monkey, not by ignoring him but by treating him with respect and with a firm upper hand. Let’s say I think something. Then because of that think, one I believe to be the truth, I feel upset. Then with an ‘Aha!’ I recognise the monkey, stop everything, turn to him and we have a little chat. The monkey departs until the next opportunity for mind mischief arises and on some days I am quite worn out with monkey deflecting. This is inner work. I don’t know about you but my mind is never inactive, even when I sleep. The past rises up to bite my bum, the future looks scary and the present is raining and cold at times, at others a bright sunshine songster. It laughs me now that I understand that whoever we are right now in our lives is whoever we are and that whoever is a damn fine specimen of humanity.

Control your thoughts, control your life. T’is undeniably the truth. What a glorious chance for freedom and I want to be free. Don’t you?

Island Blog – You have to want to dance

There is a scowl in the sky this evening. The grey pushdown clouds point fingers. The Blue Ben bothers not and why would he, standing there all granite push-up shoulders and for centuries? It doesn’t mean he doesn’t notice. What we eejit humans don’t understand is the natural communication between the elements. Earth, Wind, Fire, Water. They were here and talking long before our ancestors arrived, whether from the sea or from Adam. It matters not.

There are times I feel very small as an eejit human, as a sudden ‘insider’, in such a huge story that tells of life so long before me that it means nothing beyond its echoes. And, to be honest, they are easily ironed or washed or swept away along with the dust and the creases. However, I am very busy noticing myself. Not in the mirror, no. But in my responses to whatever comes in, including my thoughts and my ditherments and my hesitations. I have to say that once I step into those footprints of acceptance I feel engaged with the oldness in me and with all the ridiculous crap that goes with oldness. I won’t say it is a fear-thinking thing because it is so very not. It’s in the bones, the creaks, the inevitable inability to lob a fence as I used to be able to do. It also isn’t about striving for that agility. No. I get my limitations, but I will not accept without challenge. Again, No. I just step up. I acknowledge that I will not be young again. I say that I know where I am and who I am and I will (don’t do this) always accept a challenge. I will dance the rest of my life. I am under nobody’s control, only my own.

There are scowls. There are fabulous starlit nights. There are cold wet mornings and sunshine afternoons. There is that moment when the sunset blows poppy red, and suddenly in a dawn when a new daffodil takes the breath from me. I am watching myself. I say that because it is so easy to keep flopping onwards without noticing ourselves. I know because I have done just that until I clocked my flopping and turned around to question why. It whirled me around and back till I looked at the old thinking and saw it cobwebbed dark and without the spin of a live spider. It takes mindful thought. You have to notice and to question. You have to want to dance.