Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Why I live where I live - Sunday Scribblings.

I live in an ordinary house, semi-detached, garden front and back, in a circle of houses on the outskirts of town. It has a picket fence (in need of repair) at the front, and wire fencing interspersed with mixed shrubbery at the back, to keep the dog on our side of the fence at all times. She’s not fierce. She’s little, and needs to be kept safe from traffic. My house has three bedrooms, a big enough square kitchen, that faces north and needs lighting most of the day, but still manages to be cheerful, a pleasant living-room, and a room with the grand title of Study, which means it’s where my books, computer, “stuff”, all live. Three walls of bookcases, spaces stuffed with files, notebooks, cups of pens, little drawers with crayons, markers, pencils. A hidden stash of paints and papers for “when I get back to the painting”.

I found the house. Eleven years ago. We’d moved to this town to facilitate my husband’s move to a new job. My son and I did all the initial searching, and this house – we fell in love at first sight. I don’t think my (then 9-year-old) son realised it didn’t come with the baby that was in the living-room when we came to view. I overlooked the lack of sun in the kitchen, because out back, looking at it on a sunny July day, there was my haven – a sunken, paved patio area, that I could just envisage packed with pots of colour and above that, the lawn surrounded by a rough stone wall. The garden sold the house to me. It took a few weeks and a few visits to sell it to my husband, and another few months for the purchase to be completed. We moved in on my 38th birthday. Felt even then like it was my birthday gift.

It’s my house now. My husband moved out three years ago. That is a whole other story. My son went off to college two years ago. Now there’s me and the dog. We have our routines. She knows when I take off slippers and put on shoes, I’ll be going out soon, and she slinks into her little bed, where she’ll stay until I come home again.

Why do I still live where I live? Because it’s my space. Because the shape of me is in the chairs and the bed, because I know where my books are, and my black jumper. Because I know what that green shoot is that I see in March, and the one that turns up in August, because I know that the genista will be flaring gold on the slope of the garden any day now, any day. I know the chaffinch with the deformed claw that comes to my back-garden feeder, and the pair of collared doves that arrive in morning’s cool air. I know the frog I disturb when I’m weeding, and the hedgehog that appears on summer nights to help out with the slug problem among my hostas. And I live here because it holds memories. I live here because we lived here, and I cannot contemplate yet, just yet, living anywhere that I can’t say that about. I live here because this is home.

Read More Sunday Scribblings Here.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Thursday Poem

Liz, instigator, initiator and inspiration behind Poetry Thursday, asked that I share this poem with you. It was shortlisted for a competition recently, and to my delight, included in a festival annual - along with luminaries like Seamus Heaney and Mark Doty. And I was just thrilled to find my poem on the page facing one by Nikki Giovanni - whom I'd only come across a few weeks ago, when Liz put this link on her page. The first line was given to me by Cathal O'Searcaigh, a wonderful Irish-language poet and one of the most inspiring workshop leaders I've ever come across.

My country tastes of Blackberries and Brambles,

of thorns and fallen leaves.
Her mouth is full of little apples, bitter sloes.
There is the must of autumn on her breath.

My country’s coat is all pulled threads,
lost buttons. Her treasures have slipped
from torn pockets,
lost on leaf-littered paths,
among broken conker-shells,
beech-mast scatterings.

My country is no simple place.
Her heart has fool and fury written on it.
Her eyes range wide, settle seldom.
My country has an ancient, sometimes cruel face.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

A Chocolate Memory

A chocolate memory has been calling me, in much the same way that a few chocolate sweets hidden away at the back of the fridge will call me at times. The memory has been saying – tell me, tell me, in the same way that the sweets would call out Taste me, taste me.

So, despite my intention to remain silent on the matter of chocolate, it seems I have to give in to the call, and tell you the story of the birthday that changed how I feel about chocolate (and about birthdays) for life:

You picture it. December. A young girl’s 13th birthday. Cusp of womanhood. I got something as my gift from Mam and Dad. I don’t remember what. – The microscope was at 12. No. 13 is a blank, but whatever it was, it was negotiated between me and Mam, chosen, bought, wrapped and presented by her. Yes. And then, at 6 o’clock, Dad arrived home. I was at the door. I raced to open the door, and he had come bearing gifts. He had brought me a box of chocolates.

Of course, everything else paled into oblivion. – Anything else was just another gift. This was a first. This was Sweets for my sweet, this was All because the Lady loves… This was for me from my father. I seized them. I thanked him. I kissed him. I shared them, and yes, I still have the box, I just realised. It became my letter-box, my treasure-box, my under-the-bed place for special things, even after the disappointment, even after he’d told me, even after I’d gone and pursued it.

I asked – wanting to hear “Well, of course I thought of it myself!” and “How could I forget your 13th birthday?” – I asked “Dad, did you just go and buy them, just like that?”… and … Irish men are thick. Blame the fact that he didn’t have a mother or that he’d never read a Mills and Boon – or Freud, for that matter – for his response. He told the truth, the fool, and still I hold it against him and have not forgiven him.

He told me “NO”. He said he didn’t buy them. He said he’d forgotten the day that was in it. They were his first Christmas box, given by a salesman who called into the office. Chance, coincidence. Not mine at all. Nothing special. It could have been a diary or calendar. It could have been a bottle of whiskey, and I’d never have been set up for that fall. I’d never have had that few hours of believing that, in my father’s eyes I was special, in my father’s eyes I’d become a young woman who ought to have chocolates.

More Sunday Scribblings Here. Go have a look!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sunday Scribblings - Chocolate

This week's theme is Chocolate. And I would love to write for it, but truth is I am too tired. I've made three attempts, and realise I keep repeating the same words over and over. Friends, i am looking forward to having time to read all your sweet posts on this theme. I am not abandoning, and I genuinely would love to be joining it, but this weekend, i have to say Sorry. Can't do. I'm in the final seven days of writing my thesis, and there is no mental or creative energy for anything else.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Where I live

This week's List Friday prompt at Pomegranates & Paper is Why I love where I live. Yes. I do love where I live. Where do I live? In my skin, in any one of a half-dozen chairs in any one of a half-dozen places, In my house, my garden, my town, this county, this country... If home is where the heart is, my heart can be many places. I live in groups of women, groups of writers, I live at times with my head bent over books in a library, and I live a good deal of the time in cyber-space, circling, circling with all you good people in the land of Blog. Why do I love where I live? Ten reasons? (Ten of the reasons, not the top ten reasons, mind you!)
  1. Corny, cliched, but on a day like today, I am going to say the Forty Shades of Green visible travelling anywhere here. Today I just drove twenty miles, along a familiar route, but this day, in the April sunlight, my breath was caught at every turn of the road.
  2. Certain places along the road from here to my home-town, where land and sea merge into a misty, mystical-looking magical land.
  3. The Genista that are holding tight little buds at the moment, ready to burst into wild, mad yellow bloom at the top of my garden, flinging their golden light through my kitchen window throughout most of May. I think of them as my son's birthday candles.
  4. The Women's Centre where I volounteer and the writing group that meet there. Nurturing, open, welcoming, a place of healing and fun and growth. I love it.
  5. I love the people who will chat in a queue or smile at me in a grocery-shop when I find myself reciting my shopping-list aloud, or just comment at the price of something, or the weather.
  6. I love the worn-down couch in my study where I sit to write my morning-pages. It came from my Grandmother's house, and I love that I get to be the one to have that link with her.
  7. When I drive around this county, I am so taken with the beauty and the diversity of the landscape - from rich, fertile, rolling farms to wild, barren mountainslopes.
  8. When I open my back-door on a morning where spring meets summer, and step outside to the damp but warming-up smell of earth, I just love where I live. If there's a thrush or blackbird about, so much the better. If something new has bloomed - riches.
  9. I love the opportunity to go to ancient places - stone circles, and ring-forts, to feel the energy of a time before our time, to feel myself as a small thing in the huge circle of time and life.
  10. Being in a place where at any given time, on any given day, there are friends about who will join me for coffee, for lunch, for chat, for company. This is one of the priceless things about where I live that makes it a place to love, that makes it home.

What do you love about where you live?

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Thursday Poem - To My Friends

The poem I would like to share with you today is one that I found over ten years ago. It struck a chord with me then, and the same chord resonates whenever I read it. Primo Levi was a concentration-camp survivor, scientist and writer. I found him as a poet, but apparently, he is best known for the Periodic Table of The Elements. - Stories connected in to the elements. Wikipedia entry for Levi here. His 1987 death was apparently a suicide, but there are those who do not accept this view.

To My Friends

Dear friends, and here I say friends
In the broad sense of the word:
Wife, sister, associates, relatives,
Schoolmates of both sexes,
People seen only once
Or frequented all my life;
Provided that between us, for at least a moment,
A line has been stretched,
A well-defined bond.

I speak for you, companions of a crowded
Road, not without its difficulties,
And for you too, who have lost
Soul, courage, the desire to live;
Or no one, or someone, or perhaps only one person, or
Who are reading me: remember the time
Before the wax hardened,
When everyone was like a seal.
Each of us bears the imprint
Of a friend met along the way;
In each the trace of each.
For good or evil
In wisdom or in folly
Everyone stamped by everyone.

Now that the time crowds in
And the undertakings are finished,
To all of you the humble wish
That autumn will be long and mild.

16 December 1985


Does anyone else have a favourite Levi poem? Anyone read any of his prose?

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Sunday Scribblings.

Time to post something for Sunday Scribblings. I wrote without stopping, and almost went back to prettify it a bit, and then decided No. I'll let it sit as it is. I enjoyed wandering back through those days, and am looking forward to reading the memories of other Sunday Scribbling participants.

When we were little, we were part of a tribe. Children of the Eaton girls, we were welcome in any one of five other houses in our neighbourhood, and three that lay along the route from school to home. Bread and jam would be dispensed, and a visit to the toilet was fine. Just call in – pull the key on the thread through the letterbox, and let yourself into Phyllis’s house, or go down the side of Esther’s to see is she in her workroom. If not, let yourself in the back door, and make yourself at home. Well, we were at home. And through Esther’s back-garden, out into the back-field, a direct line across the field, through the fence of another garden, and we were in Nana’s. Up through the long-grass part of her garden, then past the apple, pear, and plum trees and the blackcurrant and gooseberry bushes, and up the steep concrete steps and in Nana’s back-door. Welcome here could include cocoa, and in winter, bread toasted on the long knife in front of the fire. I’d sit on the blue and grey leather pouffe on one side of the fireplace, Nana on the other, turning the bread this way and that, to get it just right. If it was a piano-lesson day, then I’d have to delay that treat until Auntie Imelda had put me through my paces with scales and arpeggios, piano and forte.

Summer was a long, long stretch of days based in the back-field. Building dens and hide-outs, exploring the culinary delights of sour sallies and pink clover, watching for trains in the high field, and always watchful against incursions by the Wardies, the gang of boys against whom the cousins had waged a long and multi-rumoured war. Jam jars full of red-arsed bees, daisy-chains, knees skinned and fingers cut with grass-blades, we’d return home at evening ready to launch into another day’s adventures tomorrow – because, in those days, we knew it would never rain, and summer would last forever.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thursday Poem

It's become my practice to alternate between one of my own and a poem from a poet I love. It's my turn today, and as Liz has asked that we use one of our own, here is a poem that is now 3 years old. Time it saw the light of day.

This is not the poem

This is not the poem of our marriage,
of the long, slow river that it was,
of the width or the depth or the length of it,
of the life, the lives it sustained.

Is this the poem of the way it turned to salt?
Came to a place where we couldn’t tell
we were falling into tidal flats,
flooding, then seeing it all seep away,
filling and failing in turn.

And no going back, no way
to rinse the brine from us?
No choice but to flow into the sea
out of the sprawling estuary wasteland
of the last years?

More Thursday Poems Here

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Four Things Tag

I've never done this one, so I picked up on Pomegranates & Paper's invitation and will see what happens.

Four Jobs I’ve Had

  1. Prison cook
  2. Wages Clerk
  3. Group facilitator
  4. Counsellor

Four films I can watch over and over again

  1. Forrest Gump
  2. Steel Magnolias
  3. Il Postino
  4. Love Actually

Four places I've lived

  1. Newbridge, Co. Kildare
  2. Limerick
  3. Sligo
  4. Donegal

Four TV programmes I love

  1. Lost
  2. West Wing
  3. Desperate Housewives
  4. You Are What You Eat (I know... gross at times, but compelling!)

Four places I've been on holiday

  1. San Bartolemeo, Liguria, Italy
  2. Lanzarote - magical island
  3. Scotland - Loch Lomond, Ayr, Isle of Mull. Aaaah!
  4. The Algarve, Portugal

Four of my Favourite Dishes

  1. Pasta with good pesto
  2. Puy lentil stew
  3. Salmon
  4. Stuffed porksteak

Four Websites I Visit Daily

  1. Sacred Ordinary
  2. Spiritdoll
  3. Hoarded Ordinaries
  4. Daring to Write

(+) many, many other blogs

Four Places I’d Rather Be Right Now

  1. Glengarriff, Co. Cork
  2. Park Guell, Barcelona - Bliss, bliss, bliss
  3. On the train from Palma to Soller, Majorca. It's almond-blossom season.
  4. Visiting my sister

Four Bloggers I’m Tagging

So many people have done this already.... anyone who would like to play, come on out!

Four Books I Recommend (This is hard, hard. Just FOUR?)

  1. The Speckled People. Hugo Hamilton. Marvellous memoir of growing up with a German mother and Irish-language obsessed father.
  2. The Lovely Bones. Alice Sebold.
  3. Writing Down the Bones. Natalie Goldberg. Like a pouch of little gems (or runes) for writers.
  4. The Prophet. Kahlil Gibran.

Four Artists that have inspired me

  1. Michelangelo. His statement when he was in his 87th year - Ancora Imparo - I am still learning. Inspiring
  2. Antoni Gaudi. Architect, artist... a complete artist. His work lifts me up, makes me smile giddy smiles.
  3. Van Gogh. His paintings, his letters, his struggle, his life.
  4. Bob Dylan. Forever Young.

Anything you want to enquire about?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Real life

has days where you open the matchbox upside down,
everyone in the carpark is driving against the arrows except you,
the rain starts after you lock your hat in the car,
days when bed all day sounds like a good option,
days when the phone rings all the while you’re finding your door-key, and stops just as you get in.

Real life, then, has days where just as you step outside, God’s fingers spill light through the clouds, and the first bumblebee of the year does a fly-by and that’s real, too. It’s got surprises and unexpectedness and maybes, buts and plenty of ifs in it. Real life has lessons, oh, yes, lessons, and gold and fake gold, and more lessons. It’s got bruises and kisses and friends who call up out of the blue three years later, leaving you thinking Life is good, Life is good. Real life has farts in it. I’m sorry but it has. And sometimes people who are very respectable in the outside world will wipe their nose with their sleeve. That’s real life too. I used to feel, as a teenager, that I couldn’t wait for my life to start – my real life, that is. I didn’t know I was in it. Didn’t know then that that was it. That was my chance to be 13, 14, 15. When did I start to claim that life? It happened gradually. Dawned on me. This is it. This is my life. I’d just better live it, grab it, be glad of it, glean the gold from it. This is real. This is Life.

More Sunday Scribblings Here ... And yes, I know it's Saturday. But they're flexible. It is the weekend!

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Whole Ball of Wax

Yes. An attempt to gather together the threads, the strings, the bits and pieces that made what was the Artist's way for me these past twelve weeks, to identify what changed, what emerged, what was new in my life, what was resurrected as important, what did I remember, what tickled me, interested me, captured me.

The picture is a (very poor) photograph of the gift I made to myself to celebrate the completion of the twelve weeks. It's called Alpine Meadow by Mary Monaghan and because it's wildflowers, it reminds me that some things thrive in an atmosphere of benign neglect. Leave them alone, with no great intentional effort to feed or foster, and sometimes they'll just surprise you by springing up.

I have felt a bit of a fraud at times during these twelve weeks, since I write, but not regularly and certainly not prolifically, calling myself an Artist, and at other times have been entirely comfortable claiming the title, simply because I'd devised a new salad combination or started to wear different earrings with a certain outfit! It has been the promised roller-coaster, and it has provided the promised boat, in which I have managed to keep my feet dry and still float along with the current.

What I've loved this time has unquestionably been this blogging experience. I was so frightened at the start - how do you begin these things? - How do you invite yourself into other people's blogs? How much to say? What to leave out? But it's not the blogging. It's the people. I really didn't expect to make such connection, to find I could just KNOW what that person I've never met, and never had one-to-one communication with, means. The caring, support, encouragement, humour, interest of so many of the people on this journey was hugely important to me. There were some blogs I visited daily, and some on the list I got to a few times in the twelve weeks. I actually liked seeing that there were sub-groups, sets of people that were visibly forming another support-group based on their interests within the broader community.

I loved the reminders I had that the experience of doing the Artists Way in March-June 1998 led to changes, led to dreams and to interests and happenings that were so special in my life. My present career path, my successes (such as they have been) with my writing, collage... all had their genesis with that 12-weeks course. I was working alone, without the support of a group at that time, and this experience has been so much the richer for this group of people out there.

One thing which emerged, or re-emerged was in the exercise about alternate lives. I wrote I'd like to be running a Healing Holidays centre. During an idle moment later that week, I began to sketch out the plan I'd bring to the architect if I were having the centre built (that's after the Lottery win, of course!), but the little sketch started to look exciting, so I went off on an Artist's Date and bought a plain scrap-book, some glue and markers and began what I now call my Dream-Seed Journal (Endment and Kara both expressed curiosity when I referred to it weeks ago). Into the book I've pasted pictures and ideas for elements the Centre would include. I keep spotting things I'd like to include and adding them. I don't know how, when, where, this will come about, but the intention is there to incorporate this in something in the future. I'm taking a risk in naming this here (fear that the energy dissipates when it's put out there), but it's been one of the exciting outcomes for me of this twelve weeks.

I am facing into an exciting couple of years, finishing my degree now (this month!), and looking to formulate a life afterwards that will contain elements of creativity, healing, writing, working with people individually and in groups - and that will provide me with a living. I am trusting that some of what's been sown as seeds in this 12 weeks will begin to germinate in the quiet time afterwards, and that I'll look back in surprise to find the origins of life events in 2, 3 or 5 years time was here - right here, among this group, in these pages, and on these screens.

I'm afraid in all this writing, I'm not capturing anything of the spirit of what's been happening these 12 weeks. Perhaps I'm just still too full with it to express it. Perhaps many of you have expressed it already (I haven't been able to read all the blogs this week yet, and comments have been almost impossible to access for some reason). What can I say? There is an ending, and a beginning.....

Oh, yes, I have loved Poetry Thursday, Mixed Media Memoirs, Studio Friday, Self-Portrait Tuesday, List Friday... I have loved these peeks and glimpses sideways into people's lives. I have loved the photos people posted, the stories of children and family, the chances to explore other places which are so loved by so many of you, the welcome into your lives, the riches, the abundance of wisdom and knowledge, the generosity of spirit in all of you. Thank you. It has indeed been a blessing to find myself among you all, and especially, thank you to Kat for putting this together, for being the guiding hand there for all of us. Blessings to you, Blessings to you all.

The week 12 check-in that never was

I know, if this was still The Artist's Way, we'd be ending week 13, but circumstances threw me last week, and left me with an unfinished feeling, in that I never got to post the ending-posts I'd envisaged, and something tells me it's necessary to round off, to leave a neat edge like on a piece of knitting, to look back, shake the flour off my hands, scrape the dirt out from under my nails, and have a look at the work that was in that amazing three-month journey, and to see what I want to say about it.

There is SO MUCH I feel I'd like to say, I'm a bit flummoxed as to where to start, so for now, I'll begin by trying to recap out of my week 12 tasks and do a check-in just on that final week.

  1. Morning Pages - did them 7/7 that week. Have I accepted them as a permanent spiritual practice? - Sure, I was doing them already anyway, but have renewed my commitment, and found them to give me more focus in some way while I have been checking in on the experience each week.
  2. What was my Artist Date that week? I know there was one. It was ah... yes, the Art Exhibition opening. Yes there were people there, and I did interact with some of them, but it was stocking my pond, and the interactions were interesting, speaking to people about drama, painting... you know, high-brow art!
  3. Synchronicity? This is where letting time go by means I've forgotten the details of that week. There probably were happenings that struck me at the time, but now they've slipped out of consciousness. If I felt inclined to trawl through my Morning Pages journal, maybe I'd find them, but I don't have the energy..... Oh, how could I have forgotten? This is a long-term chicken coming home to roost, but it feels significant that it should have happened this week. At the end of the last AW I did in 1998, one of my wishes was to teach children poetry or creative writing. It came about in small ways over the past few years, working with after-school clubs, but these were one-off events. Over the past few months, I've been involved in the process of becoming registered for a data-base of poets certified to work in schools, and yes, the process was finalised and completed this week, with a wonderful visit to a junior school, and two sessions with 54 nine-to-twelve year-0lds, which went very well. I enjoyed it so much, and got such a buzz from seeing them coming out to proudly show off their work to waiting parents! Yay!
  4. Other Issues? This will slide into the review of the entire process perhaps, but looking at the tasks I completed in Week 12, I notice I wanted to say I had no resistance, anger or fears (Yeah! Right!), and then admitted to residual resistance manifesting in the thought that this is all just grandiose posturing - that it's not REAL, and it manifests in my not really giving myself to the concept of looking after the quantity. I'm not producing more (not really noticably more, at any rate). Maybe I need to turn round and do the Artist's Way again! It's like I limit my acceptance. I believe... up to a point, and so I give myself to it, to the process... up to a point. Sometimes. And then sometimes I do jump. Sometimes I do believe. Sometimes I'm very excited by it. Maybe right now, writing about it, I feel tired, and that is seeping into my thinking. I think I did a post one week about when you think nothing is happening, there's a lot going on under the surface. Well, I'm relying on that being true!

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Poetry Thursday - Rita Ann Higgins

Today's offering is from Ireland's bravest female poet - without doubt. She is described as spiky, untameable, rasping, sceptical, insistently good-humoured... but this poem is one of the gentler poems. A love-poem, but not as we usually know them. Allow me to introduce Rita Ann Higgins' Old Timers.

Old Timers

She loves the clockman;
she leans on his shoulder
from her bicycle,
cycling slowly
through a field.

Slightly out of step,
the botched hip job
leaves him
one foot shorter
than the other.

She adores him;
his slight tick-over
his offbeat with time
but never with her heart.

Children have worn a path
for these older lovers,
harmony not always seen,
the eye is good
but the heart is better.

They're heading for the pub now.
She loves the clockman;
she leans on his shoulder
from her bicycle.

On their return,
his short step less noticeable,
harmony more visible
as the falling together starts.

The treasured bicycle
now takes third place;
it trails like an unwanted relative,
uncle somebody.

When they hit home
he'll make the tea,
he'll rub her old feet,
they'll make yes and no sentences
for ages with love,

and if the voice is good
she'll sing out to her clockman
sweet youthful melodies,

making him forget
years, months, days,
minutes, seconds,
ticks, tocks,

until the only down-to-earth sound
is the click of her new teeth
as she whispers, gently,

'Love, oh love,
there's no time like the present.'

Rita Ann Higgins.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I've been away for a few days, and am finding myself a bit overwhelmed on returning by all the posts on all the blogs I would like to catch up with, by all the things I meant to post about, and all the things I have to do in the real world to catch up, and think I just have to let stuff sit, let it be, just be quiet a while. Here is a quote I spotted today, while I was travelling home. It's from WB Yeats:

We can make our minds so like still water that beings gather about us that they may see, it may be, their own images, and so live for a moment with a clearer, perhaps even with a fiercer life because of our quiet.

I need to find some still water at which to sit. I am tired. It's been a difficult few days. It's good to come home and find my blogging pals still here.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Beginning of the End of Week Twelve. PreciousObject

I suspect it will take me a few posts to "wrap up" this experience that has been The Artist's Way this time around, and I am only today going to complete the two tasks of week 12 left to me, one of week 11's, and a check-in, - later, after I've gone and had a walk in the park, but first, I've got to let you see what happened to the Precious Object. Two pictures - First, the object as it first appeared: (for some reason I can't make a link to the post, but you may recall I suffered a lot of resistance to the idea of creating this poster, to putting it somewhere VISIBLE), but being obedient and biddable, I did as Julia said and creatied it, decorated it, and thought "That's that". Well, that was not that. Over the weeks, little objects have been presenting themselves, saying The Precious Object would like this, and I've been embellishing, adding, tweaking, making it look considerably more gaudy (and attractive to my gaudy-loving Artist Child!) It's got real flower-petals, fluffy flowers, glitter-gel pen lines, tiny people, fish-beads, glittery beads, gilt outlines of butterflies, bugs and flowers, paper butterflies. It's got bows on it! It's almost like a competition now to see how much I can add and still not obscure the original message. Treating myself like a precious object will make me strong. I realise Precious need not mean fragile - just valued, highly valued and worthy of care and attention and understanding. This has been a very important part of the process for me, and to copperfasten this idea, the precious object acquired a new companion last night. I went to an art exhibition and bought a painting of an alpine meadow, as an "Artist's Way Graduation present". When it comes home, of course you'll get to see it.