Island Blog – The Luckiness

Oh we are so very busy, so fraught, so flapdoodle about Christmas. I remember being all of the above back in the last century when my five feral kidlings wreaked havoc in as many ways as they knew, and they knew many ways. Their excitement was loud and fraucous, high pitched and very fast. What happens to legs, I ask myself, as I cautiously descend the stairs and never jump anything over 12 inches high, remembering the blur of Child as it tore through a room causing even the wine glasses to fall over in the afterwrath of such a cosmic blast? When I was ‘busy’ and responsible for everything Christmas, the presents, the wrapping, the dressing up of the 20 foot tree with its point pointing to the floor because the ceiling just wouldn’t lift to accommodate, the star hanging down land twinkling like the drip from an ancient and cold nose, my legs were right beneath me and as fast as any cosmic child. I was lucky to have legs at all and so was my family. Had I been legless, the whole lot of them would have effortlessly escaped the rule book; probably burned it along with the logs that were more like tree trunks. At least my fully functioning and agile body could prevent disasters, catch the ferals to spin from room to room averting disasters such as the 20 foot tree falling on the sleeping dogs, cats and pet lambs and who let them in btw? Don’t give me ‘Aw, they’re cold’ or I’ll just cook them.

Now in my pensioner days, I rush not, nor am I busy. That chaotic life is in my past and thank the holy crunch for that. No more must I panic about stocking gifts, other gifts, in-law gifts, writing a zillion cards to a zillion people and the annual freak out about serving up a Griswold turkey; the making sure that the in-laws, who invariably arrived in an argocat with a bumper laundry basket filled with well wrapped gifts settled into chairs aligned just right, candles at the ready, lambs definitely out and who brought that crow in? Atop the tree, well, not actually at the top because we all know where the top is, but in the tree nonetheless and shrieking worse than any child. I had to blow out all candles at that point. The thought of feathers alight gave me indigestion in my imagination and that is not a comfortable feeling. Ah, such a past. So many adventures. Such a lucky woman. My life, our life, would kick the Griswolds into second touch, for certain.

When I write that I am not busy, let me explain. My days are always engaging and active. I stack wood, I walk, I clean, I write, I sing and I dance, but the have to, that pushy crow-shout in my ears is quiet now. I can do what I like when I like. Sometimes I don’t like either of those but I can still perform the tasks and there’s another word I like. Perform. Thinks me of my non-existent stage life. Did I tell you I was offered theatre work and turned it down to marry himself? Well, I did, and I regret it not. In fact, my agility and ability, both physical and mental as a stage performer, storyteller and activist (a good one) has supported my life as wife, mother and now grandmother. Lucky me. When I take a wee wander back through time there is a lot I forget until out of nowhere a memory lifts like a swan from the water and I watch it fly up, up into the vast blue sky and I smile. I was there. I was her, that woman, that wife, that mother, those times are mine to treasure. I also recall the stomps and stamps and slammed doors, one of which fell off its hinges with the force of me. I am proud of that even though, at the time, it was of great inconvenience.

This morning I tootled into the harbour town for fuel and fish. I really don’t know why anyone ever bothers with going off island as everything anyone could ever need for feed is grown right here. As I lifted into the mist, the mist flashed with sunlight, the frost sparkling on the grass and on my little mini, along the empty switchback road, I passed the grave, the new headstone. I stopped the car and watched it for a few moments. There it is. There you are, facing the rising sun and with a view you always loved. T’is right and rightful. T’is your landing place and it will be mine too, one day. There’s a new grave. I knew that man, that quiet, gentle man. He is gone too. I wonder if you and he have encountered each other yet. I like to think so.

The town was quiet. The shops alight, their windows dressed in baubles and gifts and mostly empty; the town lights all a’twinkle, few cars parked and only a few islanders on the street. Not like the old days, in the last century when the pavements would be buckling beneath the feet of those with gift lists, stocking lists, in-law lists; those collecting food and fish and turkeys and chocolates, when ‘on’ and ‘line’ were two words that never went together. Well, now they do and we are lucky to have that option at this time. Now let’s go otherworldly. Beyond our fuss and fret, beyond our rush and our busy, what is the voice of Christmas? Is it love, is it giving, is it peace, is it sharing what we have? When the packaging is burned, the toys broken, the meal devoured, even a Griswold meal, what are we left with, the something that will succour us through the Big Cold Months yet to come?

The moments. The pictures, we remember, the affection and the warmth, the rebirth, even if I raise the busy and the frantic. I remember it and them. They had their place in my remembering and they are so much a part of it all. However, they are just part of the structure of just one day, and just one day can create ripples. We know this. What we need to learn is the wholeness of everything, including Christmas Day. There will be ups and there will be downs, and in that intricacy, there is a landscape. Rest in the whole. Look at the bumps and the awkwards, the imperfections and the exploding turkey and smile. We are who we are and we are just perfect just as we are. Just as we are. Lucky us.

Island Blog – Rethink the Butterfly

I remember times when we could move in and out of each others lives without second guessing the wisdom of close encounters, sharing laughs and songs, music and chatter. I am sure you do, too. These past months have shown us how limited that freedom now is. We don’t like it. We feel confined, scared at times, at best, cautious. We have to think for ourselves and make our own decisions regardless of governmental announcements and that state can be confounding, overwhelming. I flit like a butterfly between overwhelment and decisiveness, caught up in the barrelling winds, soaked in the rain of it all, only finding rest inside my own home and alone. Many, many folk will know how this feels and for now we can see no end to this battering.

However, being forced to think and to make our own informed choices about what we do, where we go and whom we meet with is good for our brains. We are not schoolchildren. We have autonomy no matter the restrictions laid down for us. They are very important, nonetheless because nobody really has a Scooby about this virus and its dastardly plans. Is it dying or is it morphing into something even more destructive? Nobody knows, not the governments, not the scientists, not the medical profession for this enemy is invisible, secretive and immensely powerful. We move through each day with caution, most of us, and as we wake up our immensely powerful brains, we have to stand for what we believe in, even if it upsets someone else, or many someone elses. This is not an easy thing to do for we all want to fit in. We second guess ourselves. Is this decision not to attend a gathering based on wisdom, my wisdom, or fear, my fear? Well, the answer is both. We need awareness of fear, the knowledge of it, the inner study. We need, in short, to think and to question those thinks.

Not so long ago, wars raged for real with military ranks marching into battle. Those left at home faced huge restrictions, fear for the fighting men and women, shortage of food, of warmth, of security. Time dragged, days rolled into a long line of misery and frustration but in the middle of all that confusion, individuals stood strong. Mothers queued for many hours to make sure their children could eat bread. Young women and the men who could not make it to the battlefields, entered into the intelligence services. Folk butterflied in hospitals, on the streets, in soup kitchens, in schools, helping elderly neighbours, working on farms and in many other ways. The country pulled together because of the war, in spite of it because the human spirit will not be defeated.

We are in a different war now, but it is war nonetheless and every single one of us can do something to make life a bit better for someone else. Many have been bereaved and they need comfort. Many are lost in fear and isolation, the loneliness chipping away at their self-confidence, spinning in confusion unable to see more than one step ahead. They need friendship and connectivity, even remotely, through a window, on the phone, through a zoom or a text. I’m thinking of you. We will not emerge from this unscarred, none of us will. It has shifted the tectonic plates of our thinking, played shinty with our beliefs and shattered the structure of all we heretofore believed solid and strong.

And now Christmas is almost upon us, one filled with concerns and ditherments. Do we, should we, can we, ought we? I shake my head. I have no idea what to do. I know what my heart wants, as do you but if we look beyond our obvious desires, what do we want to see? Good health, yes. A future without viral attack, yes. But a vision requires restrictions in the present. Not at all comfortable. However we are fools if we pretend everything is okay or bury our heads and hope we won’t be the one to get sick, won’t be party to bringing sickness in for others. It is, in the end, all down to individual decision, popular or not. Easy to say, I know. Damn hard to stand strong and light in confinement and darkness.

In Spring, the butterfly is a wiggly worm, a maggot, a nothing much. Inside the safety of its cocoon, it develops beauty. Then, one fine day, it breaks out to enchant anyone who sees it. This unbelievable metamorphosis is only believable because we know it will happen. In these dark times, in the wind and the rain and the uncertainty, vision, trust and faith are everything. If we are patient, careful, considerate and with an eye to the future, the lucky ones will emerge and fly once again in new colours, even more beautiful than before.

Island Blog – Dawn and Wings

Sleep left the room at 4 am. It’s a bit rude to be honest and unfair that she gets to choose when to unwind herself from me and to rise into what is absolutely not dawn. It was the nightmare she didn’t like, I’m guessing, and nor did I, but that’s no excuse to abandon ship. Nonetheless, with her gone somewhere less scary, I knew I wasn’t going to sink back into slumber. Rats. I pull back the covers, fire up the bedside lamp and swing out of bed with reluctance and determination. This will not decide the quality of my day ahead, whatever it may bring. I have practised this art for many years now and have discovered that I am in control of my attitude, no matter what.

I wander downstairs to make coffee. I switch on Christmas and smile at the twinkly winkly lights on the tree that I am certain has shrunk since last year. It’s cute, though, sitting in the corner with an overload of fairy. She, unlike the tree, has grown inside the box in the dark of a cupboard and her frock flares like a cloud. Her wings are a bit wonky chops so I wonder if she might be preparing to fly off somewhere. We have a conversation about that. I notice that I pruned the big geraniums in my warm sunroom. The cut offs are in a pile on the ground. It did need doing and I did wait until all the blooms had gone crunchy before what looks like murder. It’s for your own good, I tell the skinny mother plants. I will add compost if this day ever decides to wake up and then water you. You need to sleep for a few months. So do I, but that is not my path, apparently.

I wheech out the ironing board. Yesterday I pulled off the cushion covers and bashed a year’s worth of dust and feathers out of the inserts, washing the covers until the colours brightened into smiles. Then I ironed each one and, when this day wakes up, I will fill their bellies once again. I search for some good tunes, discovering that Spotify has assembled my favourites for 2021. Well, how thoughtful! Each tune, each song is just perfect for an insomniac at the ironing board with at least four hours to go till morning rises in the east. I love that first glimpse of natural light, can feel the relief of it run through me. Now I can see.

I have forgotten the nightmare. I don’t often have them any more, thankfully. They used to stalk me every night and Madam Sleep was barely beside me for more than an hour or two at the most. I have tried to explain to her that she needs to brave up, to stick with me so that together we can banish the images, have a chat or a midnight feast and then return to slumber, but she is not a dependable friend. So, all on my own, I choose not to revisit the mare. Instead, I consciously turn to think on happy thoughts, like my children, my frocks, my day ahead. I wash in cold water because the warm is still asleep, dress, and put away the ironed clothes. I light my big candle in a jar and smile at its warm glow. I sit for a moment to consider others who find sleep a fickle friend. Hallo you all. I encourage you to learn how to change mares or sleeplessness into happy thoughts. We can all do it. The darkness can be a friend if we decide so. We can choose not to align ourselves to thoughts that tell us we are anything less than a wonderful, strong, powerful, beautiful human being, which we all are, every one of us.

And, there’s a day ahead, a new one, an adventure just waiting in the wings.

Island Blog – A Christmas Dream

Merry Christmas to you all, and may all your dreams find legs this coming New Year, for, it is one thing to have dreams and quite another to walk them out. It will take courage and sacrifice, belief in the light of them even as we fumble about in the dark. I used to think dreams of change were for children until I remembered that, although our bodies age and our minds get stuck in how it was and always will be, we are all still children. Just because Life knocks us back time and time again, disappointments walk in like they owned the place and each time we try to step out someone makes us trip, there is no reason on God’s goodly earth that any one of us cannot achieve something amazing. It might not be noticeable to anyone but ourselves, might not mean we achieve fame and wealth, but that doesn’t diminish the amazingness, not one jot, because we will feel the thrill of having gone beyond that which we thought was the edge of it all.

And we are all afraid of failing, which is the only thing that keeps us stuck. It is understandable. I can hear the voice in my head telling me that, at my ripe old age, this dream is impossible now. I am too late to unfurl it into the sky, too misshapen, lumpen and my mind is not as bright as it was when, had I paid attention the first time I dreamed this dream, I might well have succeeded. Poof! I say, even as that voice loudens in my head. And my ‘because’ is this. If I don’t pay attention now, right now, then this dream will die with me and that is not going to happen. Perhaps you always wanted to achieve something but fear held you back; fear of failing, of not being encouraged or of disapproval from a nearest and dearest? Perhaps you saw someone else achieve this very dream of yours and succeed, thus comparing yourself in an unfavourable light?

The courage it takes not to compare, not to self judge, is huge, but the good news is that, once you take the very first step, you find that the way begins to show itself; not like a motorway with lights and lines and tarmac for easy motion, but as a little winding path just wide enough for two feets and a body. You cannot see where this path leads, but you keep going, just for the hell of it, just for the ‘why not’ of it. There’s a soft breeze blowing the grasses and you see them bow their heads so gracefully, bending, yes, but rooted strong. You are curious, like Alice, like a child and you move further on and further until, when you turn back to see how far you’ve come, you realise you can no longer see the beginning. You feel a frisson of fear. You are alone now among the bendy grasses with no clue as to where this path will take you. Too late to turn back now. After all, you left that judge voice behind and you absolutely will not give it the opportunity to snigger, which it would, were you to retrace your courageous footsteps. And remember you are doing this not to impress, not to beat anyone else, but simply for your own self. As you walk on, you see things, hear things more sharply, using, as you must, all your senses in order to be safe in this new and wild place. Up hills, climbing tough at times as each step takes you nearer to the sky. Rocks lie in your path but you can scale them. When it rains, as it well might, you have grand old trees to shelter beneath. There is fresh spring water to slake a thirst and Nature’s larder is all around you. As you walk, you remember words you have read and heard, words of encouragement and you hold them close. From time to time, as you weary, you also remember the discouragement or disapproval of the naysayers, one of whom will be your own self, and you bat them away, like flies. They are not serving you any more. You say to yourself “I can do this’.

And, trust me. You can.

Island Blog – The Magic of Christmas

Hallo it’s me, the 4 am riser. Actually I would have, could have, slept longer but for the early dog. There is little I can do as she appears not to understand my reasoning around things like consideration of others, dawn rise and the need for humans to enjoy a good night’s sleep. She just cocks her head and blows down her small nose at me, derisively, continuing to patter across the boards and to clean herself noisily. I have to give up, eventually, pulling back the covers and telling myself it’s fine, there’s coffee waiting and the light will come as it always does.

I think on Christmas past with a smile, now that I am frocked up and swilling with strong black coffee. I loved the build up, the knowing that work would stop for himself once I persuaded him that family comes before his work. That was always the tricky bit, persuading him. I doubt I am the only woman who had to find clever ways to get this elementary message across. It bizarres me. Why does a man want a family in the first place if he never plans to prioritise it? Ho, I say, and Hum. At first, when the children were little, I managed 2 days of him not working. Over time I achieved a greater number until, oh joy of joys, he would agree not to work all the way through to January 5th, his birthday. I felt such euphoria then. I could actually relax into family plans and believe they would come to life instead of waving him goodbye and turning back to the chaos alone.

It is the anticipation for me. In everything, if I’m honest. Just moving softly into the magic of carols, messages, decorations and meal designs brought the fairy dust out. I would skip through chores that dragged at my ankles the rest of the winter. The cold at Tapselteerie retreated, not least as I was ‘allowed’ to burn all the fires at full blast for a whole ten days and he chainsawed, hacked, chopped and delivered half a fallen forest without a single tut. The heating, which proffered a whisper of warmth at best, was on twice a day. This was unheard of unless we had paying guests, naturally. The ice inside the lavatory bowls took considerably less time to thaw of a morning and the sound of excited and capering children throughout the big house was a delight to hear even at 4 am. We were happy and together and that was all that mattered, for ten whole days. After that time, grim faces would return, school would cast a gloom over chilly child faces, and back would come the annual dread of another tourist season and the huge amount of work required to make each room, each cottage a dry, clean welcome for whomsoever would brave the long track of potholes. But not yet, those feelings and dreads, not yet. For now it is us and warmth and Christmas just around the corner.

I feel it still, even now. Although there is no ‘We’ anymore and the children are far flung across the world with their own anticipation and fairy dust, I still feel it, right here in my heart. It is under my feet, inside my head, all around the house. It is in the music, the twinkly winky lights, the blast of skin-searing cold as I chop wood for the fire. It is on the faces of islanders walking by. And I love every minute. Although we are all missing someone this year, we have memories and there’s a whole world of them inside each one of us. I can do nothing about the rules this year. I cannot change a thing about any of them. But, I can sit with rememberings, smile at those faces I cannot see, one I will never see again, and I can still feel the magic of Christmas time. And, I remind myself, that this will pass; that there is someone out there, someone I cannot see, don’t know, will never meet, who is far worse off than I; someone desperate, neglected, rejected, abused, terrified. In this light I am humbled. In this light I have everything. In this light, I am a lucky woman indeed. I have loved ones, I am warm, I have lights, friends, beloved family, my health, my working brain, my gifts and skills and my cherished memories.

And I have the magic of Christmas, once again.

Island Blog – Disappointment Reversed

Suddenly there is change, a huge change, a life change. Some say, mournfully, that Christmas is cancelled but that is a load of tosh. Who can cancel an inevitability, after all? The day will come whether we mourn or celebrate. I have questions here. Are we still breathing? Did we wake up this morning, heavy with disappointment or did we wake, our minds buzzing with ideas for what we can do, whom we can celebrate? Perhaps a bit of both, in truth, but which thinking will win? If we grieve for what cannot be, for the ones we cannot be with, either because of the new ruling or because they are buried six feet down, we make a big mistake, for Christmas will not come again until another year has passed beneath our feet. The benefits of wasting time are nil. We have no time to waste, people, and no right to do it. If we have time, this time, any time, we are custodians of that time, as many have no such luxury. There are sick people, lonely people, abused people, dead people. If we do not find ourselves in any of those categories, we are indeed blest.

I imagine there will a lot of food left over this year. A big turkey or goose or nut roast that sits uneaten and un-shared; treats and gifts still with us, ones we now need to post and ones that will not arrive in time; little faces who won’t see grandparents, aunts and uncles; games that won’t be played; quieter homes. Next year we will talk about this time. Some will say it was the worst year ever, that Christmas was a disaster. Others, those who don’t waste time moaning about what cannot be, will say how thankful they are to have made the best of both the year and the strangely empty Christmas. I know which I will choose. Confusion has surrounded us since March. March! It is the longest time, yet not long enough to confound us, not as it might have done in times of endless war. We have no idea how fortunate we are. This past year is not the worst ever. It is just a year within which a lot happened. Just one year. And during this year, what do we remember of the good and great things that happened? The random acts of kindness, the surprising messages of support and encouragement, the way we learned to zoom or hug virtually, the phone chats, the waves and smiles of passers by, the food left on a doorstep, all happened because of this so called terrible year. Surely such gifts are worth remembering.

If we are fortunate enough to still be here, to be able to eat well, to be free to choose our attitude before the inevitable, then we can still celebrate Christmas, life and those we love. We just need to think, and right now, how we will do that. We have 4 days of 24 hours left to re-design our plans and our attitude. Learning how to be adaptable and versatile is a by product of ‘tough’ times. In easy times, there is little need to employ either. Why would we? When what we expect comes without troubling us much, we just float along like sticks in a river. But when the floods come and the water swirls and twists and lips over the banks, we can get stuck in eddies or stranded on rocks, wet and going nowhere. In our minds there is tremendous power. By choosing not to lie, wet and going nowhere, we can change everybody’s anything. If one person decides to shine their light into a roomful of darkness, then everyone can see. The light may not illuminate all expectations, but it will, once eyes grow accustomed to the brave flicker, allow others to find their own light and before you know, the room becomes quite magical.

And disappointment is reversed, in one single decision to celebrate this wonderful time.

Island Blog – Independent Christmas

Well, this is a fine kettle of fish indeed! We can meet up for Christmas, no we can’t, yes we possibly might be able to, no we cannot, absolutely not, unless we…………. It’s a wonder any of us know which way is up these days. However, it seems clear enough to me, as the fog of confusion dissipates, that each one of us is required to employ a great measure of common sense. As we all know, this ‘common sense’ is anything but common inside a society that waits for Someone Else to tell us what to do. Independent thinking has slowly been erased from our brains until we become almost robotic. Or that is how it looks to me. Even when a goodly person ferrets about for an answer to that tricky question “How do you feel about this situation?’ and even more alarmingly “What do you plan to do about it?’ these two simple questions can create chaos inside a mind. I know it myself. First, I pull back; then I begin a sort of dervish twirl that can take my frock skirts over my head and leave me mighty nauseous; this swirl thing can go on for days, weeks even, as I repeat the questions to myself and find answers none.

I have now worked it out. Making an independent decision in the face of a national, nay global dilemma, is a big ask of a small woman, of all of us. Listening to the news, the rising numbers of those falling prey to the virus, alarms me greatly. The rise, it seems, is directly connected to ‘gatherings’ such as shopping for gifts and supples, or meeting together in pubs etc. Well, if that isn’t a ‘duh!’ I don’t know what is. Obviously, when folk gather under such a cloud of mean-spirited virus, that virus will spread. It is silent. It is lethal. It is not going anywhere with all these willing subjects just ignoring the danger. Who would? If I was a virus I’d be laughing my head off right now. So now, when I ask those two questions, the answers are simple. I feel alarmed and because I feel alarmed, I am not travelling anywhere, nor inviting all my friends in for a hoolie. Simples.

Yes, it is Christmas time and yes we have been locked down since March, afraid and isolated. Some of us have seen death in that time; some of us have, thankfully, not. The good news is that Christmas is an annual event, not a once in a lifetime thing. It will come next year, as many good things will. When we look back over this last year what will we say? Will we bang on about how tough it was, forgetting all the myriad and unexpected things wonderful that came our way, or will we be deeply thankful that we got through it, and together. I have never known such a unity in the world, seen or heard of so many random acts of kindness or learned of so many heroes and heroines who snuck out of the woodwork of their ordinary lives and became extraordinary. And all this because why? Because of the virus, that’s why. In times of peace we get complacent and idle. In times of war, such as this time in which we live right now, we find an inner strength and resourcefulness we never knew was inside us at all.

Whittling down the stick I find the wooden heart. If I do the same to the swirling dervish of confusion I find my own heart, the mind of my heart, the true voice of independent thinking. We may be advised not to travel. This is not a rule and there are no road blocks out there, after all. However, when I consider my part in the healing process of a whole nation or two, it is obvious to me that travel is a risk, so I won’t be doing that. It won’t be easy, seeing no family on this, my first ever Christmas alone, but I can do this. Anyone can do this. It is just a matter of independent thinking, of having a deep love and respect for life itself, and vision for a collective future. Once an independent decision is made, it is surprisingly freeing. The swirl and confusion slows to a stop. Try it.

And the chance to share Christmas with those we love will come again next year as long as we get our thinking straight for this one.

Island Blog – A Mouse, A Monday and a Child

It’s Monday, but it could be Sunday for all the quiet out there. On the island we are taking this Covid 19 virus very seriously indeed, unlike other places, or so I am told. We plan to survive this siege and although our drawbridge is now firmly up, we have found a way to keep in touch. I get funny videos and cheery texts and FaceTime calls often and I am very grateful for them. Being a natural hugger I now have to stand far away from anyone I meet, washing my hands before touching anything they have touched, and it feels deeply weird. We are looking in now, finding things for entertainment, edutainment and upliftment. All those ‘ments’ are forcing us to use our big brains, and inventiveness is the key.

So, this morning, I decide to print out photos of my hundreds of grandchildren and their parents, captured moments of fun, in wild places, doing crazy things. I know where my Picturemate printer is. It’s on a shelf in the Land of Mouse, a dark cupboard underneath the stairs. The space is like a mini fairyland, draped exquisitely with cobwebs, the many shelves holding ancient nonsense. There are photo albums that date back to slavery, old recording equipment, wires for nothing we still employ and, in the nighttime bit, the big fat darkness, lie the Christmas decorations, silenced for another year in the belly of an old school trunk circa 1820. I can see where the mouse has made a nest or two, chewed through some obsolete wires, nibbled at the edges of this album or that cardboard box, and I whisper Good Luck Mate. I don’t mind living with you as long as you respect my Importants. Eventually, I find the printer and haul it out through the cobwebs. Now to affix it to my laptop with the right plug. So far so good. I find the downloaded photos and begin.

And that is where I stop. All I manage to achieve, in spite of double and triple checking the settings is one leg of one child on one spit of paper and the other leg on the next. At this rate I will have to assemble 12 photo sized cards in order to make one whole child. And there are 3 of them in this picture. It makes no sense to me, but even though I apply my finest and calmest logic to the matter, I make no headway, much like in the printing process, for the head of child number one never printed at all. I unplug the printer, save the photos in my gallery (I think) and return the box to fairyland. I think the mouse has jinxed it.

In the bigger picture, this little pictorial upset is nothing. But, we must be careful not to let such small things grow. And we must help each other to do the same, to see wide and free and the drawbridge down once more. It will come. And this time will have thinked us all. We will have found strengths we never knew we had, friends we never thought cared that much, ideas that come, that only ever come in times of extreme fear and deprivation. The human spirit marvels me.

I just wish mine could work out how to print a whole child.

Island Blog – Hope for Change

There’s a hum I hum when things infuriate or frustrate me, when I meet a bump in the road. It, the hum, begins in upper case and probably in B minor, my favourite key and the one that fits best between clenched teeth. These bumps in the road are not just there for me, but for all of us at times. Of course, there can be no actual bumps inside this house because, if there were, himself would be tipped, all ungainly, from his wheelchair and then I would be tasked with the job of lifting him up. Neither of us want that. Once he is down there, gazing at the cobwebs, the seat of the wheelchair is as far away as base camp, Everest, or it looks like that to me. So, no bumps allowed.

However, actual bumps are not what I’m talking about. I mean bumps, as in ‘stops’ in the running of a life; things that go wrong without asking if it’s ok to go wrong. They could be little things or huge things, but, either way, they alter facts. Life herself makes a subtle shift in a new direction and it is easy to get left behind as she turns away. Standing by the roadside is not taking anyone anywhere, so we are expected to accept this shift and to turn with Life. We can do this in B minor, with clenched teeth, or we can take on the major key and loosen our jaw. I am actually sick to death of loosening mine. I have done it a zillion times and will, inevitably, be required to do another zillion times before the fat lady sings the whole flipping song. But, being sick to death of this required repair work on my attitude is not all that helpful. I get indigestion, for starters, and then cross and then crabby and before I know it, the bump has become a Monroe, one I will really struggle to climb.

Rebecca Solnit (another favourite) said that ‘Change comes, not by magic, but by the incremental effect of countless acts of courage, love and commitment.’ And I believe her, however fed up I may get with all these acts of courage, love and commitment, required daily. I may be an official unpaid carer but so is everyone else. If we don’t care, we might as well walk into the sea with stones in our pockets, for life has no meaning at all. The danger in our country now, perhaps across the world, is apathy, not caring, giving up, shrugging at the gift of Life and making no effort to engage with our fellow humans. With Christmas coming, many are thinking of others in a wonderful caring way, but that mustn’t stop come January. If, like me, the opportunity to improve my attitude comes at you daily, hourly, minute by minute, then we are the lucky ones, for we have no choice in the matter. We cannot be outfoxed by a bump in the road. I have learned and still am learning that I can make or break a situation with my attitude. I can make someone smile, or make someone cry. I can lift and encourage or cut down and break. That power is immense and we all have it. The choice is down to us. We may not be able to predict a new bump in the road but if we have decided not to make this broken world any worse than it already is, we can find our way around the bumps with laughter in our eyes and loving care in our hearts.

That way lies hope, change and the first few lines of a new song, one we can all sing together.

Island Blog – Jiggetty Jig

Home again, home again, etcetera, and I am just getting into the swingle of it here. Agreed, the slap of cold did hit me head on (and foot on for I had omitted to pack stout boots for the chilly ground), but welcomes always warm and they certainly warmed me. Now on the island and with a fire lit for the day I am thankful for having a home at all, let alone such a cosy one.

The furniture within has re-arranged itself, as I suspected it might. When the Old Dragon (me) is gone long enough, himself will make things the way he wants them. In the case of chairs and other well-placed items of comfort, they are all pressed against the walls of the house and looking rather startled. I decided I would not be willing to spend my evenings against a far wall, two miles from the fire, but it took some negotiating and a lot of justifying with just a tiny mention of the fact that I live here too and that I am important, to pull my (somewhat relieved) arm chair back into the mix.

The reason for the changes is to more easily facilitate the wheelchair, the chariot, upon which himself will glide (endlessly) through the rooms. Naturally, a turn or two will be required on this restless pacing, hence the rejection of the startled, and rather upset, sitting room furniture. I lifted two more chairs upstairs to join all the other ‘unnecessary’ furnishings, such as lamps, tables, ornaments, free-standing artwork and so on, apologising as I went and wondering how much more the beleaguered office can hold without crashing down a floor. Everything, you see, has to be ‘safe’ for himself and, besides, I am done with picking up, dusting off and repairing things precious to me as he fells them and continues his glide through the days.

I find it doesn’t bother me so much now, if at all. This house is now a certified safety zone with easy access to pretty much all he needs. So many things that worked before can never work now without an accident and we don’t want one of those. The heart monitor beeps. The fall alarm glows red on the desk reassuring me that those kind voices somewhere in Scotland are one press of the button away. Sometimes himself presses by accident when no accident has occurred and I suddenly hear Lorraine or David asking if everything is ok. I tell them it is, and so sorry, but they are always kind. God’s angels for sure.

From 40 degrees and no plans or to do lists or prayers to keep myself together, compassionate, my eyes off the things that irritate, to the island and Christmas marching ever nearer. I turn up the tunes and wonder where my fairy lights are. As I burrow into the dark cupboard that holds everything else, I smile. Fairy lights found, but they are not going to be the brightest this Christmas because I shall be twinkling too and my batteries never go flat.