Island Blog – The Sky, Skerries and Staying

Today it is falling, the sky I mean. Earlier the pocks of deeper grey sat like skerries in a white sea. A few spots of soft rain fell, hardly worth a mention, but the wind was cooler than of late. Now the sky is leaking down onto the land, covering the hills, blanking out the trees, undefining contours of a land I know like I know myself. But do I know myself, I wonder? I think I do, and yet, there are times I catch my reflection and stop, mildly astonished (oxymoron). You do know, I tell myself in my best English student remonstratory voice, that it is impossible to be mildly astonished. This is lazy ‘speke’. Astonished, is, after all, a superlative and ‘mildly’ does little more than dilute with too much milk. It blands itself. And it thinks me.

I studied and loved language. English, French, German, even Latin, and am still a devotee of the way language flows like a river. Or it can do but, if I am honest, less and less nowadays in the ways learned by me. I remember my old dad with his linguistic brilliance, puffing like an old pipe should he encounter poor English, poor grammar, the ‘wrong’ use of punctuation. I also recall a conversation with him about acceptance. As cultures collide and collude, language shifts. We adopt and adapt and before we know it, words fall away like birds. When I read a classic novel, superbly crafted and written, it seems effortlessly and in lingual confidence, I can see that without incursive verbalism such writing would indeed flow like a river for a creator of stories. So do we, the now ‘we’, who must work with the fast moving changes of our world, go with what is, or resist and remain in academic slippers? We could, but we would risk losing a load of readers because language is changing. We might find ourselves moving up a floor, and up again, until the only person left is a lonely one. All the rest have died off, and their slippers are too worn for a charity shop, and burned as litter.

I find new language dynamic and fascinating, even as my eyes roll at much of what I read. Get with it old woman, I tell myself, because if you do, you remain in the game, the game that is life in motion. To refuse to abdicate the throne of those torn and floppy slippers is to choose loneliness. As writers, and we can all be a writer if we just pick up a pen and are ready to learn and grow in the world of words, we are duty bound to be gymnasts. Not actually gymnasts, the thought exhausts me, but acceptance gymnasts. There is another type, the one that holds on to the slippers for grounding, and who does a lot of eye rolling and pipe puffing and shuffles from room to room as if there is no world out there and if there is then I want none of it. I am not this person.

We live with danger, threat and menace. We are hacked and hi-jacked. We are compromised, surprised, confined and defined. Out there racial and sexual prejudice is alive and kicking, literally. The sky is falling. But wait. Look at how the sky reaches down both to confuse and to alter our perceptional lens. See how, in the not-seeing of what we know invites us to look at something another way. We can dismiss this as an opportunity, ignore it, even, say Mist, say Fog, say Close the Curtains. Or we can actually look and if we do, we will marvel. It is the same with words, with language, with change and with people. I get that it is exhausting (nearly said pretty exhausting #oxymoron) to be always required to adapt and adopt, but it is the way the world is spinning, faster and faster. New technology brings both healing and death, the whole circle, and the greys in between are like the skerries in a white sky sea. There are millions of them and each one offers footfall. They are like stepping stones. We might not know where they lead but if we don’t keep leaping from one to the next, we remain lonely, in slippers and pipe puffing at what only we consider lost.

I can write into the mist, or it can blind me. I can see banks of clouds or I can see skerries in a white sea. I can allow new cultures to enhance me or inhibit. I can hold to the old or I can estew the new, allowing myself to simmer and to blend with whatever comes in. Together we can make a delicious meal. I am not a new writer. I am honed from past teachings but I am curious and interested and I want to stay in the game.

Island Blog – Add the New and Let us Heal

Well, today was interesting. I went through my check list of new habits, ticking off this one and that. During that process, there were times of momental anxiety, as ever. Self doubt, quandary, up the stairs and down again. The usual. Moments when I doubt myself and never, ps and btw in the moment. I know my moments and they are mine and they are themselves and we work together nae bother. It is the times when I doubt something much bigger and all because a thought comes in. I now recognise these confounding thoughts as those rooted in the past, in childhood, in my marriage, in my gawky and faulty motherhood walk. Oh, Hallo, I say, I see you, I recognise you, I would like you to move back for now so I can see the moment. The moment shows clouds, bird-fly, trees moving in response to the wind, skies responding to whatever shit is going on up there way way way above my understanding.

I walked, although, confessing, I did not walk mindfully today. I walked blind. I was caught up in my thoughts, a gazillion of them and not many of them, if any, helpful nor relevant to the now me. This is the human condition. We are always at the mercy of our thoughts until we learn cognitive management and that is not control, much as we might long for it. No. It is the practice of noticing our thoughts, of stepping back from them and of assessing whether or not they are helpful in the now now. Our new now now. It does take practice. Hoping to be able to cope with a welter of thoughts at anytime is wanting to live in Disney. And, for you Scots, it disnae. I know Ive been at this for years but I am no model student. I can be overwhelmed easy. Like this day.

I am out there in my garden, which happens to be at the front of a lovely old stone house with views fantastic. Anyway, I am out there with seedlings and they are shouting at me to be planted, like we are so tired of this tiny pot, our roots are wound up like Freddie Mercury and Hallo? So I go out there with gravel for the planters and peat and topsoil and other witchy growing helpers and then in they come, the visitors, the lively, lovely dog-tastic, kitted up visitors with bins and backpacks and enthusiasm and a merry smile, their mouths oped for greeting and my peace is shattered. My nearly deaf dog catapults into hysterical terrier barking which has to be in discordant A minor on a badly tuned piano, and because she is fast, I can’t catch her, and because she is nearly deaf she can’t hear my voice and the whole lovely visitor thing turns into a frightful afternoon. Just like that.

They move on with their lovely dogs that don’t bark and I hide within in my turmoil. I know what this is. This is my challenge to get back out there, to get real, to find life again, the new life that I know will come from over a year of being in jail. For all of us. I shower. Change frocks. Look forward to seeing my beloved son tomorrow when his boat comes in to Tobermory. I get over myself. Do you?

This is an opportunity to hang on to the old. Or, it’s an opportunity to be curious about every single thing. This is a new world people. Do we want to be an active and loving part of it, or are we going to stay where we were, constrained by old ways and (seriously?) thinking that was ever helpful to a broken world that yearns to heal?

Island Blog – My Home, Music, Changes and Fun

Today the sun shone like it was in a competition. Brazen, warm, loud in the sky. The pufflet clouds moved around it, I think deliberately, because it showed them in their best light. Edges like fire and brimstone, smokey dark below. Quite the picture.

I did a bit of this and that. I lifted some paintings to the walls of the rooms that used to be his and are now not his anymore. His bedroom, a tangle of hospital bed, aids, plastic receptacles etc, all gone now. There is a king sized double for visitors, a new carpet, a blackout blind and curtains. In the office, now not the office but instead a wee kiddies room, a new carpet flats the boards, soft and cool and slightly sea coloured. I joined an online church group and it was very lovely indeed. Then I marched out, plus wee dog, to corral some beech leaves, soft limbs, gentle emerald leaves, for preservation. I watched my old and ferocious mother-in-law do this thing. Glycerine and water mix, pop in the limbs and wait. The stalks draw up the mix into the leaves that take on a shine and are preserved for ever. ish. I can hardly believe I am truly becoming Granny at the Gate, and if you haven’t already read my book then do it now. The replication of a life in every single sense (only I am never ferocious) is bizarre. God bless you old girl for your powerful spirit. It lives on. As you can see from your vantage point.

As I re-designed the rooms that were his, I felt a falter. Although he is gone and this lovely home is now mine, there is yet a sense of notmine. It never was when he lived. It was his or it was his mother’s and I find it quite hard to brush that legacy away. As I arrange for my friend, an antique dealer, to come when he can to remove the old maple dresser, the mahogany thingy full of ancient leather bound books, I get the whiff of traitor around my person. This would never have been countenanced when he lived. Now he lives not. Now this is my lovely home and I crave white space, minimalism and the moving on of old, maybe valuable stuff, that will bring money in for my kids. For our kids.

I chose music that kept me in the bubble of me and him. Sibelius, his favourite. The Swan of Tuanela, Valse Triste, and Grieg, Peer Gynt. I played them loud as I worked. Then I brought in my favourite, thinking, this is my house now and my music is also important. Beethovens’ 6th, the Pastorale. These have been on a loop all day as the sun beats in and the birds sing like they were the choir for the Second Coming.

A good day. A day of change, of down and then up. And I look around my lovely light, bright, open home and say to myself, How fortunate am I. How lucky, how glorious is this island place. And my neighbours have just come back, all children and garden talk and fun.

Island Blog – Silence, Shape and Change

I notice everything these days in sharp butts or gentle whispers. Funny how it happens. I notice new and surprising ‘friend’ requests from widowed men. I notice kindness from friends I know and trust. I notice how the expanse of life both confounds and cuddles me. I never noticed such dynamics before, busy as I was with marriage, with kids, with letting go, with caring, noise that took up my whole hearing. Now there is silence. I never got to know silence. It never came to me. there was never silence. Now there are hours of it, days of it, eons of it, both outside and inside me and we are learning each other. A greater part of me thrives on silence. I have craved it for my whole life. Stop. Talking. Stop. Telling me what to do. Stop thinking you know me. Just Stop. And now the stopping is here, like a shout, like a whisper, like a sharp butt. Well, there is work to do my lady. I know, I know. I am ready and I am open. The shape I have been for decades is no longer my shape. I can feel it shift, lift, split and become fractal in a whole new universe. It is very weird, very odd, very confounding, very welcome. Two opposing thoughts, held. A bit, no, a lot, like a marriage.

I walk today beneath cuckoo flight and an encounter with a pair of bullfinch. They, the bullfinch, are such an astonishment, such a gift for anyone, those big blood red chests, that black head, that unmistakable lift and flight, that hurries away. The Cuckoo also gift. I am guessing the same bird, for the location is always the same, but, nonetheless, a gift. The raindrops on the leaves make diamonds. It lifts the light, the shine of green, making each blade of grass like a newborn. The rain came on heavy, like way too loud for me to hear my audio book. I had to shut the doors to the sunroom with its plastic roof, as it sounded like the end of the world. Once quieted, I watched the way sound muffled and it reminded me of parents talking behind doors. An almost hearing but not enough to explain their concerns and not enough to make any sense at all. And there is a yearning there, to know more even as my hands back then were twists of troubled meat and bone. This doesn’t change. I know the Cuckoo is an adventurist, a taker, not a giver, but I still thrill to hear one, to even see one fly over my head. The ultimate human confusion. We want to hear and we don’t want to hear at all.

The rain popples the search. There are diamonds in patches, in swirls, moving but not with the tide. These patches are individuals. They hold, shift, move on and then concede and become a part of what must be. I like to think this is what I am. For ever I have conformed (not just me but all women/wives/mothers) to the ebb and flow. And yet there have been times and will be again to flash popples and diamonds just for a moment, just for a time. How wonderful is that!

Island Blog – Avoiding Collisions

The big window is speckled with raindrops, held in stasis and they glisten. I look through the children’s doodles, the glistening raindrops, my eyes moving into the garden and the brave early flowers. Grassland flows down towards the sea-loch and up the other side, up and up until I find the clouds, a tangle of them, I think at first, and many shades of grey. Watching most closely I can see the layers. Up front, the cobwebby dark fast moving clouds, see-through and spitting rain. Behind them the fat blowsy white ones, lazy, taking their time too respond to a rising wind. They are weighty with knowing and in no rush, not see-through at all, like old professors who know they have a job for life. Further back, the clouds that don’t seem to move at all, flat like naan breads, backlit by a little flash of sun, and beyond them just whispy white sky, acres of it. Acres. How many layers are there? How far back, up, across do they stretch? For ever? I see these levels as closely bunched, micro managing their individual trajectories, but I am wrong. There is only accord. Room for all of us, they seem to say, effortlessly avoiding collisions.

The birds are more than ready for me this morning, one of cloud and cold rain. Many goldfinch, greenfinch, redpoll, siskin, sparrow, blackbird, robin, hawfinch, thrush, starling and rock dove. They line the fence, balance on shrubs, flit and flutter like music notes blown off the stave. Time to reel them in before the wind speed confounds and the rain turns weighty. I fill each feeder as the braver musical notes play around my feet, my head. Two goldfinch watch me from the inside of an ornamental maple, red now, red as good claret. The second I leave, they are down like a swarm of bees. As walkers pass by they rise back into the air, flitting between the feeders, between the shrubs, between each other, to land down again the moment the coast is clear, and all the time they chatter. Some feed young on the fence, some feed themselves, and in all this flitting and lifting, fighting and feeding, rising and landing, there is perfect precision. We know what we are doing, they seem to say, naturally avoiding collisions.

This land is walked on, now, by many more feet. The ferries are booked, the accommodation scrubbed and ready. In the air around us, anticipation, anxiety, excitement and fear layer up, cloudlike . We are grounded and can only go on, steady, determined not to hide away any longer. Peeping through fearful curtains, opening doors that squeak from lack of use, scrubbing doorsteps, we emerge tentatively into a world that barely recognises itself. Who am I now? Who are you, now? Do we still know our way around each other, feel the same way about this, about that, about all the important things that ran strong within us but whose names I have forgotten? My sense of import has changed, my value rating. Has yours, and, if so, will we know each other, have anything to say in this changed world? We know we must brave up and out for we are not moles or worms to need the dark because we have no seeing eyes. We need the light, crave the light, the sky the birds the clouds the sun the tidal moon shift and the story-carrying winds that blow from one side of this planet to the other and back again. We need each other, even if the otherness has become a hesitation when we meet once again. Like all other members of our natural world, we can adapt. We are not going back to normal, an eye-rolling ghastly grammar-makes-no-sense contradiction of a sentence if ever I heard one, because that ‘normal’ is light years behind us now. There is only forward and we are all unsure of our footing. Let those of us who refuse to bring the past along with us hold fast to not having the faintest clue about what happens next, what the ground is like, what clouds will come, what shape the future. Burn the old book that speaks of separation, segregation, prejudice and domination. That book needs to go. It has been outdated for many many years. We might write a new book together. Meantime let us step out, step in, step through and around, consciously avoiding collisions.

Island Blog – Butterfly, Change, Motion and Lift

This day my eldest son returns to sea for 10 weeks. In theory. Who knows what rulings will be in place as his supposed return date moves closer? Nobody, that’s who. Or is it ‘whom’? I don’t give a damn to be honest. All I do know is that my heart is a butterfly this morning. His time at home is always wonderful but this time tops the lot. The suspect in this has to be the death of his dad and said dad’s loud absence from life. And he has been so caring, so present, so available. Of course, it isn’t just me who has benefited from his being here. He has a wife, a family, a home and friends. But I am his only mummy. Just saying.

Funny thing, this mummy role. New birth is one thing but growing and developing a child and then letting go is a very different one. It is history in the making, memories captured or consciously lost. It is both good and bad, happy and sad, upsetting and elevating. It is butterfly lift, fragile, beautiful, dangerous and transient. A mother, well, this mother, is always, even now that all five glorious children have their own, vigilant and alert for danger, even when she is laughed at and teased about her state of alertness and vigilance. She cannot change. She cannot let go, even if she has done just that in real time, on the outside of herself, marking her own reactive behaviour, her choice of wordage and comment, denying her own longings for the greater good of which she is only one part.

Mother’s Day, my birthday showed me clearly how precious I am to my children and my grandchildren. I was celebrated to the point of exhaustion, requiring many naps during and after both days. It thinks me. We mothers are not born mothers. Our children birth us. Without them how could we possibly know such depth of feeling, such agony of concern, doubt and worry? And on the other side of those dingly depths, there are the highs, those gloriously wild lifts of joy, of celebration, of wonder and amazement. The threads that link us mean that every yank shoogles us. We respond. Change comes as it always does and just when we think we have found our balance. People leave, some return, all change in the face of change. We do so, or we find ourselves left behind on some draughty platform with not a train in sight. I have been there but only when I resisted the inevitability of change. If I stayed down, then I stayed down, flat, pancaked, immobile. Motion is required. Get up you plonker and catch another train. Find them. They are not lost. You are. I remember such times, the desire strong in me to give up, to hide, but the pull of motherhood always got me to my feet.

So, as he leaves for the long arduous journey, through Covid tests and isolation, and up up and away into another world, I will reflect thus. I have enjoyed a daily dose of him for 10 weeks. We have laughed and hugged, shared meals and stories. He has helped me re-jig my widow’s brain, celebrated me and helped me to find a new way of being bravely independent with kindness, encouragement and a lot of teasing. This is what I have and I am a very lucky mummy. I will remember all the moments and they will strong me back into my beautiful wings and into the sky along with the geese, the softer winds, the spring light and the gentle peace of this island life. And I will picture him safe, happy, important in his work as master of the super yacht, and, most important of all, home again safe in mid June when the flowers will be partying, the trees heavy with leaf cover, the young birds fleein’ aboot, and the sun high enough in the wide open sky to convince even the cynics among us that we are, once again, free to lift, change and move on.

Island Blog – Rethink, Balance, Begin

After I wrote down my whines and moans yesterday, I had a rethink. What my think discovered is that my self talk has been all tapselteerie for a while. Yes, yes, understandably so, what with Covid and bereavement and who-the-hell-am-I-now, and the darkness of winter. But once a woman realises something needs to change she must needs begin that change thing. Looking at the complicated mess within can be confounding. Where to begin? There is only one way to begin anything in this life and that is to take one step, just the one. Balancing can be tricky though. If I put one step forward, thus losing my centrifugal point, I may well topple. However, if I take one step and then re-align my feet, my balance is true. I am upright and steady. The symbolism of bringing my other foot up to join the other tells me I have committed to being one step away from where I was, in the dark. Although I am nowhere near the full illumination of a surrounding light, I am at least on my way and I won’t go back. Why would I? That place of Boohoo Poor Little Me was pants at best. Did I need to put myself through it in the first place? Perhaps I did, because there is no greater joy to be felt in a human heart than that of new light ahead. So, in moving forward I will not beat myself up for stroppling around in a flail of arms and anger, but, simply allow that it was as it was and keep moving forward.

It thinks me. We are good at taking ourselves and our situations too seriously. We are good at beating ourselves up, of hiding from Life herself. I know it isn’t just me. Unless we pay attention to the trajectory of our thoughts, we are all at the mercy of brain control. Now, I am glad I have one, don’t get me wrong. I am thankful, daily, for the way I can access information from her vast store and then plot my course, set sail into the new. However, she must not be my only guide. My thoughts are one thing, based on existential learning and experience, but my emotional intelligence, that part of me that can connect with everything I have not experienced, not yet, is vital. My attitude is not based on experience, nor on stored information within my brain. It is based on hope, on faith and on the strong belief that no circumstance can control me, not for long. My attitude to what happens is everything. If I can laugh at myself, lift my feet into dance, then it doesn’t matter what I am required to deal with, however irksome, however threatening. But I will need to be ready. If my way of being is always a response to external circumstance, my inner resources will be compromised at best, inaccessible at worst. So, I begin. Again. I have done this Begin Again thing most of my life and it chuckles me that I am still learning the how to of it. I already know the why. It is obvious. Who wants to remain in misery? Not one of us. So, today I tell myself I am quite marvellous, very loved, needed and important. It’s fun. I shush the demons and watch them lose their power over me. They melt into mist.

The sun shines. I see the birds wheel and dive in the garden. I watch the hills take on their pink sunrise frocks. I finger through the patchwork squares for a baby playmat, for a new boy due in May. Dinosaurs and other creatures from the Mesozoic era on soft blue and green backgrounds, all smiling which is probably something they rarely did, if ever. No matter. I buy offcuts of material for these playmats and love making them into a gift. New life is always a wonderful thing and there seem to be one heck of a lot of babies coming this Spring and Summer. I wonder why? The mist is lifting, both inside me and over there on the other side of the calm sea-loch. Music plays in the next room and I sing along to the ones I know, feeling lighter, mightier. I will engage completely with each moment this day. I will tell my brain she needs an MOT if we are to work effectively together from this moment on. You are like my new mini, I tell her. I need you to work for me not against me. Are we clear on that?

She rolls her eyes. Here we go again, she mutters, and then demands coffee.

Island Blog – Season Shift – Resist or Lift

I always do this, although I only noticed the ‘this’ that I do quite recently. As Summer gives way to Autumn I continue to wear bare legs and feet for as long as I can outrun chilblains. Once into Autumn, I find ways to layer up without ballooning and look forward to each morning, even planning my layers whilst still beneath the covers. As Winter sinks in her teeth I find it progressively harder not to balloon, but I am on a roll here and the cold comes incrementally, in the main. But when Winter begins to concede to Spring I am oft confounded. I have become used to my layers, ones that used to fit me the whole day long. Now they only suit me up to midday and from then on become a massive irritation. I feel as if I might combust, but it is still not yet warm enough to leap out of a vest. I open doors and wonder where on earth my shades are. I sit in the glare of Father Sun and feel cross. Go Away, I want to say, even as I don’t. The fire still burns and I will need it in about an hour when the Old Man is taken down by the forever hills, but it makes the room stuffy. I open windows and in whoopees a freezing draught full of chilblains and icicles. Jersey on, jersey off. It’s a ridiculous day and not the first, nor will it be the last. Perhaps, I tell myself, it is so much more natural to layer up than it ever is to brave off the layers of comfort, layers that have become my friends and protectors for months now. Is Winter the longest season? I always said so in my talk with tourists who decided on a happy holiday whim to buy a plot and build a home. Don’t. I said. Do Not. Not until you have spent a winter or two here. Why is that? they quizzed. Because winters here begin in October and hold fast till Mid May, that’s why. Not with frost and clean clear icy, shiny, sunny days but with wet, wet and more wet and when the wet thinks we need a change, it turns to ice and sleet in an annual battle against the rise of a Spring sun. Just in time for lambing.

I walk in the slipslide of ice meets sun and marvel at the blue of the sky. Hallo Mr Blue Sky, I sing to myself without the backing group and I search for buds and studs of green on trees. It is pointless. These studs and buds know jolly fine about winters up here. I hear them snigger from the safety of their twiggy nests. You think this sudden sun will fool us? It only happens once, after all. It is, this time, a holding time, a waiting. And yet it is we or is it just me who is longing for warmth and the chance to open doors to let out the stuffy, even if I might have to de-balloon. Is Winter the longest season, and what does that mean for the inside life?

First off I can see the dust. Blimey, it is legion. Although I say I don’t believe in dusting, I am glad there is no chance of visitors. My dust is remarkable. Not quite an inch thick, because I move about within these walls at speed, but almost. I don’t notice it on grey days, normal days, but when this lunatic sun decides to shine like a beacon into the future, lighting the way for all but the blind, I find him invasive. Shine out there, I tell him, and not in here. Don’t bother flagging up my smeary windows or my table tops that once were oak and shiny. You make me feel like I will never win a good housekeeping award. The dust is on every single surface. I sit and watch it, the way it sparkles in the sunlight; diamonds and pearls, rubies too and emeralds. Are there stories to tell in that dust? Is there history? There must be. My cleaners have not been here since just after Himself breathed his last. Almost six months. I have hoovered and wiped, a bit, but dust and I will not meet. Clearing dust, in my opinion, is not for me anymore. I have shared my life with too much dust for decades and the clearing of it, if indeed that is ever possible, is no longer for me. But I can smell it. I can see it, lit up like it was a celebrity, glinting, sure of itself, holding ground.

It is this time of the year that I find hardest. Not only is the dust shouting out her stories and memories, but the sun is taunting me, offering light and bright but not enough warmth for me to shed a layer. Getting dressed in the morning is just confusion. 5 layers till midday and then what? Upstairs to take it all off and start again? This, this, is the winter and it is the one season that fights like hell to hold on. And it is the only one that makes me cross, even as I love it. What dichotomy. At Tapselteerie, I remember hoping winter would never end, that the new season would just forget to arrive along with all the tourists and the work, even if I did have chilblains on my chilblains. But once that season began I felt a lift and a joy. Life was living again and so was I. Momentum creates momentum, at least it does for me. Having to bare my wintry arms and legs and to see my body after months of concealment under layers might give me an awkward moment but perhaps this is the gift winter leaves behind her. You have rested, she says. You have covered and concealed but now is the time for joy and lift. Take my gift and rise with the buds and studs.

You are stuck with me. Deal with it.

Island Blog – So Last Year

I notice that, since the first lockdown, little buds of hopefulness are emerging. Enterprising folk have taken on study and are now elevating the robots of Facebook and Twitter, and us. Although it can occasionally be quite marvellous to know what someone is cooking for supper, it does become a little dull over time. I have been a little dull over time myself, I must confess, taking a photo of a plateful of colour and texture in the sure knowledge that this will bring me likes and comments and schmooze. There are daily postings of children playing, of old granny’s birthday cake alight and looking dangerous when I find myself hoping that the old girl has enough puff residing in her lungs to avoid conflagration, and of colourful and textured dinners. Many update their profile picture and if I know them, I can see the effort and time they took to look particularly wonderful or hilarious or warm and smiling.

Enterprising people are finding things positive to spread hope among us, folk who, previously, might have worked at something quite different but who have realised that posting positive on a daily basis requires effort, demands regular tasking and stands alone in the fight against gloom and disbelief. I gloom and disbelieve too. Writing down my resolutions makes me snort at times. Who am I to think I can actually achieve this busy page of A4, and for a whole year? Each resolution requires breaking down into particles and I am not overly fond of particles being a woman who likes the finished work of art, the job done overnight. But there is a chasm, nay, a continent, in between me writing down my determinations and them inhabiting my mind, body and soul. When it thinks me, I can see that what I want is instant conversion to this new faith in myself, in life, in the world. I don’t want to do the work at all, even knowing that I must.

Becoming who I aspire to become is going to take me into the fog of inner change. I cannot see who I will be, nor where I should go. I cannot see anything at all and the fog is cold and damp and is making my eyeballs soggy. I cannot even see the path ahead. Who wants this? It would be so much easier to turn around and to head for home again, back to what I was but didn’t like much, to where the simple routine was both simple and lonely, where I can check my mobile for tweets and posts on other people’s dinners, children and fired-up grannies. But if I want to change, as I do, if I want to elevate myself from the ditherment and loneliness, that lack of hope and faith, of self-belief, then I must not turn around. Instead I must look at that flipping sheet of A4 and deconstruct each aspiration into those irritating particles. Although it seems a bit unfair that the year has to begin with a January when a May would be so much more pleasant, it might mean that it is I, myself, who needs to add the colour and texture so lacking in Nature. Thinking thus, I find I can respond to bright happy pictures that others post with a smile. I can see how they are also inside this January, have their own aspirations and change lists, are also walking through the soggy fog and yet still manage to find colour and texture to share. I can read the positive words scribed by those enterprising folk who used to do something quite different. From mechanic to coach. From HR to author. Well, why not? We need these people who have lifted themselves for our benefit and whose commitment to positivity and the promotion thereof gifts us a daily sprinkle of magic dust. Sometimes I mutter a Go Away with all your positive stuff. I am weak and weary, isolated, lonely and can see no end to any of it. But, I sneak back later for a peek and find that the daily attention I pay to my fog trek does lift me a little. On a regular basis, this ‘little’ can develop and grow. The fog can clear just enough for me to see my feet, feet I had forgotten were there, and it smiles me. That smile sends a message to my brain; my brain sends it on to my body and I straighten a bit; my body goes wild with it, pulsing it through my blood and all that messy stuff inside me and before I know what’s happening, a little song rolls into my mouth. I sing it into the fog.

On days when the fog is too much, I don’t, any longer, berate myself. I don’t say ‘See…..I knew you couldn’t keep this up, you big loser!’ I just stay home and cosy. The fog will wait for me, after all and if I really want to become who I can become then this trek is going to be worth the effort, an effort that oft feels pointless. Even on stay home and cosy days I hold on to the colour and texture, the positive and the elevating, and I silence the cynic for she is no longer relevant to me, to anyone, and particularly now when the whole world is in disarray and turmoil. Who I was, that woman afraid of everything and quite without the belief that she is worth any level of preservation, never mind development, is so last year.

Island Blog – Step Out of the Ordinary

Well, here we are……it all begins again…..or does it? To me this sounds like we are in Groundhog Year. But, but, but, no year is the same as the one past, not least because we move into it with more wrinkles, or less, more confidence, or less, more enthusiasm, or less. Whichever what way we approach a new year, a new chance for change, we are not the same people who left the old one. We have lost something, someone, or gained something and someone. We have moved house, changed jobs, learned something new, as I have. I have learned that this pair of spectacles work best in the kitchen for my mobile phone, whereas these ones with stronger lenses, resting in their red case in the sitting room, work best for my laptop and for lighting candles.

Over the years I have met what I saw as cynicism about things like birthdays, Christmas and the new year. We don’t acknowledge them, I heard say and I thought how very sad that is. For me, any chance of celebration is a chance to bring magic into a sad old world that might just say, as a new year approaches, Oh here we go again, in a maudlin sort of voice. I cannot, will not do this, not ever. If life is not about celebration then what the heck is it all about? We spend endless days inside the Januarys and Februarys of Ordinary. Surely we can rise and sparkle a few times a year? Or is it that we don’t have any sparkle left? Well, I have something to say about that. Sparkle, people, comes from inside us, from our child heart. Expecting it to come from outside of ourselves may well be the problem. If you want sparkle, then sparkle.

I wish you all the happiest and most marvellous 2021. I wish that you find your sparkle, even feeling foolish in doing so, regardless of being laughed at or mocked or rejected. Sparkle, people. This world needs the sparklers. We all have a part to play in this new year. What part will you play? Same old cynic or someone, however old, who can find the magic and bring it to the grey streets? We, who know what I am saying are precious. Be foolish, be fun, be spontaneous.

And very happy new year to you all.