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.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday's Feast & Sunday Scribblings: Miscellaneous

It's Friday, and I'm going to do the Friday Feast again. And, as I'm going to be away for the weekend, I thought I'd post today for Sunday Scribblings. And, as Sunday Scribblings' prompt for this weekend is "Miscellaneous", and Friday Feast asks that we reply to questions seeking miscellaneous bits of information about us.... well then, two birds, one stone....

Appetizer How many times per day do you usually laugh?
Oooh...that's a hard one! Depends on who I'm spending time with. I've always had the most side-splitting wet-your-pants laughing times with my younger sister. And, as we don't see one another every day, that's not guaranteed. I often laugh alone. Driving in the car, listening to something silly on the radio. Last night, watching Justin Lee Collins' The Convention Crasher, I laughed. OK, ok.. average it at 5 times a day. Give or take.

Soup What do your sunglasses look like?
Quite dark, not-too-large squarish tortoishshell frames, with a little bit of bling on the arms. They live permanently in their little compartment in my car. Essential when driving, even (and sometimes especially) at this time of year. Though, given the darkness of the sky today, I don't think I'll be needing them when I set off for my weekend with the family later on.

Salad You win a free trip to anywhere on your continent, but you have to travel by train. Where do you go?
Oh... since I live on an island off the coast of my continent, not linked by train, technically I have to stay here in Ireland. If I lived in Britain, thanks to Eurostar, I could go anywhere at all in Europe. (And I would go to Prague.) Only Icelanders are more isolated. So to compensate for the lack of choice, I would get a round-Ireland ticket and travel as far as I can, stopping at any town I've never been in. Unfortunately, though, round-Ireland won't get me all the way around, as large parts are no longer served by rail connections (Boo! Boo!). I'd have to drive somewhere to start my journey. as there are no rail connections to Donegal, where I live.

Main Course Name one thing you consider a great quality about living in your town/city.
This was a small town until relatively recently. It's grown massively in the past 10-15 years. I came to live here almost 13 years ago, and the people here are very welcoming to strangers. You meet a great mix of people, and newcomers are welcome to join in social activities. I was only here a couple of months, when I was actively involved in a writers group and a women's centre, and feeling that I belonged. You don't get that everywhere, so I value it about this town.

Dessert If the sky could be another color, what color do you think would look best?
Lavender, lilac, pale shades of purple. I know, sometimes you get that anyway, and when you do, I always really admire it.
If you would like to see more Friday Feasts, go HERE, and for Sunday Scribblings on the topic of "Miscellaneous" go HERE.

Have a good weekend! See you next week!

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Fellow Travellers

I think first of those who are on my day-to-day path, the friends and colleagues who know when I've got a cold, who check in how I'm feeling at vulnerable moments; those who have gathered up the details of my family - who's not well, who I'm concerned about. These people - they pick up my satchel and carry it a way, they reach out so that I'm sheltered by their umbrella as we walk along. They find a sweet in a pocket and offer it. Hum a tune that will carry us a little farther along the road. They share details of their lives, and we pass words - memories and hopes - back and forth as we travel. This is my tribe, these people are my kith.

Our steps are not always synchronised. Some drift onto other paths, and we call out a Hello! that is heard faintly from time to time. But we do not forget one another, and when we find ourselves again on the same stretch of pavement for a time, we meet with gladness, and pick up the threads of our conversation again.

And then there are those met just once along the way. Brief times of connection with another soul. There are two whose memory warms my heart particularly.

J... my sister and I shared 3 seats together with her on our flight home from Lanzarote, a few years ago - winter 2004. She noticed that my sister was reading Ulysses, and was impressed. We counted the number of failed attempts we'd all made between us. (Reminder: Check with A whether she actually finished it that time!) We compared notes on the holidays we'd had. We two on a typical tourist visit, taking in everything and everywhere associated with Cesar Manrique, swimming, reading, eating too well. She'd been on a yoga holiday, and it had had its challenges for her. We clicked. Found we had more interests than books in common. We shared email addresses, and she and I have been in touch occasionally since then. She has health difficulties, and she runs writing workshops. Last year, she shared one of my poems with a class, and I had an email from one of her students thanking me for the inspiration for her own poem. I think of J far more often than I contact her. She was one of the fellow-travellers I feel blessed to have encountered. We could meet again. Sometime, I hope we will.

And then there was K... I'm sitting at Shannon Airport, May 2006, in the departure lounge. Nearby, a woman is smoothing and folding some silk scarves, checking whether she's accidentally splashed them with water. Our eyes meet. "They're beautiful" I say, and she immediately turns to me: "Aren't they? I couldn't resist buying them as gifts to bring home..." She's been touring ancient sites in the West of Ireland with the wonderful spiritual writer, John O'Donoghue, (who died quite recently, and is remembered by many, including Cate, HERE). So began a conversation that was to continue through our wait at the airport, and later on the flight to New York - which was only half-full, and where we could choose to sit wherever we wanted. Our interests too dovetailed in strange, synchronous ways. We had taken workshops on either side of the Atlantic with the same wonderful Poetry Therapy teacher. When she heard the purpose of my first visit to the States - to attend SoulCollage(R) facilitator training - she had heard of it. She had the book. As we talked, we discovered that our personal lives had parallel experiences, and we found we were both travelling along the path of single life after the end of our marriages. I shared secrets that no-one else in my life has heard. We laughed. I learnt something of her spiritual journey, she of mine. When we parted, each to take different connecting flights to different parts of the west coast, I knew I had met someone who would be in my life for a long time.

Our contacts are sporadic, but just as with J, there was a feeling when we met that left me knowing we two were meant to meet at that time and in that place, and that we would always be connected, in some ways - as fellow travellers along the road of life.

Confirmation of that: Last year, I return to California for a SoulCollage conference. When I turn to the participant on my right during introductions, she tells me what city she's from. "Oh... I've only ever met one person from there" I say, "... her name was K..." They know one another! Friends! It's a small world, and in it, aren't we blessed when along our paths we meet such fellow travellers? I know that I am.

[And note...I haven't even touched on or mentioned my feelings about the fellow travellers I meet day by day here in Blogland and just how much so many of you mean to me, because I did just recently, on my 2nd Blogiversary post. You know I love you! ]

For more Sunday Scribblings on Fellow Travellers, go look HERE.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Friday Stuff

First: This is what I've been playing oh... for hours and hours. It's addictive, educational, and it's helping people. I CANNOT get beyond level 49. Keep slipping back. Then up. Then back. Are you playing?

Next: I don't know the name of the blogger at I'm Over It, but she's gone and tagged me for a meme. She apologised for "being a pain" when she did it, but I don't mind in the least. I haven't been tagged in a while for anything like that, and I'd been wondering what I might write today, so it gives me a start:

- the rules are ...

1. Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog.DONE


A. Share 5 random and/or weird facts about yourself on your blog;

1....I can neither cycle nor roller-skate.

2....I have to iron bedsheets. It must be done.

3....I don't like cream. I love desserts, but don't like cream.

4....I have a crush on a well-known poet. Not a movie-star or rock-star. A poet!

5....When I'm stressed, I make soup. Chop vegetables. Chop more. Make soup.

B. Share the 5 top places on your “want to see or want to see again” list;

1....Chile. (never been, but there are ideas)

2....Must return to Israel. One visit (1991) wasn't enough

3....Greek islands. Crete probably. Sometime

4....Have I been inspired by my tagger? New Zealand for me too, please!

5....And much more of the US than the corners I've already seen.

C. Share 5 things you never pictured being in your future when you were 25 years old.

1.....I got married at 25. I couldn't have pictured us ever parting. EVER.

2....I had dropped out of college, but at 25, was working and gradually acquiring accounting qualifications. I couldn't have seen a total shift in direction, and my late acquisition of counselling and psychology diploma/degree.

3....I was already living 140 miles from my home town, and it felt too far away. I wouldn't have foreseen a move another 70 miles north, and living as happily as I am in Donegal.

4....Poetry? Published? Me? I could not have foreseen this in my future. Reading in public? No way. Running workshops? Helping others find their writing voice? I'd have said it was absolutely, totally impossible.

5.....I couldn't have imagined that daughterlessness would be something I would learn to live with, that i would come to view the many friends I have as my "tribe" and worry less about the matrilineal blood-line. There are two nieces to carry that on. I pass on the spirit of my mother and grandmother.


Tag a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs. I'm tagging - and stressing that participating is totally optional - Julie at Celtic Woman, Molly at A Certain Slant of Light, Laurie at Living with... , Taexalia at Taexalia, and Kara at SpiritDoll.


Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. The tagees have a choice of which they want to do. (It seems you can choose any one of the lists of 5, or do them all!)


And I'll do my Friday's feast on another post. This one is already too unwieldy!

Have a great weekend.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: The Date

I don't know exactly what date it was when my husband left me. Strange to say, I think I know, I can surmise, but as I wasn't at home at the time, I can only assume he left the day I was returning from a weekend away. Otherwise, he'd have been leaving our 16-year-old son alone in the house, and he wouldn't have done that. It was enough that he left him to say "Dad's moved into his new place". I imagine the thinking behind that was that he was sparing me the sight of him walking out the door with a suitcase; sparing himself whatever it might have cost to say "Goodbye".

I know the date we decided to part. I thought it would be engraved in my memory forever, but last year, the day passed, and it was close on midnight when I paused and said "Oh, yeah... this was the day...."

I know the date of the second-last time we made love. The last time... there's an approximate location in time. It could even be today, 13th January. But now, since our parting, this date has become the anniversary of his father's death.

I know the date on which we first met. My first day in a new job. I know the date of our first date. I know the date on which our son was conceived, the date on which it seemed I was about to lose that precious little blob of cells, the date on which I finally realised that he had held on, that he was clinging inside me for another while longer.

I know the date on which my son was due to be born, and that he decided to arrive two days early. He's never liked to wait for anything. Fast food is never fast enough. Buses are too slow. What puts him off travelling is not the distance. It's the time.

I carry dates with me in a fairly sloppy mental roll-call. Birthdays, anniversaries, first-times, last-times. I carry approximate dates, connecting two people with birthdays in the same week in my mind, perhaps confusing which order they come in. My year comes to points of notice, times when I feel a date so significant is going to be really meaningful, and then, the day might pass like any other.

This year, I believe I've passed the watershed of pain, that I will be able to face the 25th anniversary of my wedding without bemoaning the absence of silver-edged cards, or special romantic outings and trips. That date has now become another anniversary. - The long-longed-for child that my cousin and his wife will be adopting was born on that date last year.

Dates become transformed. My calendar fills up with notations of meetings, gatherings, events to be marked. Days pass, the year turns, and the next day begins again and again, anew.

If you would like to read what other people had to say about "Dates" go look at Sunday Scribblings. Thanks for stopping by.


What do you want?

I hadn't met TED - "The annual conference [that] brings together the world's most fascinating thinkers and doers, who are challenged to give the talk of their lives (in 18 minutes)" - until tonight. And now that I've found this space I've been listening to the most inspiring talks. Isabel Allende - amazing, uplifting, passionate. And Eve Ensler, who wrote "The Vagina Monologues". Her talk ends with this comment:

"When we give in the world what we want the most, we heal the broken part inside each of us."

She's left me pondering: What DO I want the most? How do I give it?

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Friday, January 11, 2008

2nd Blogiversary

Two years ago today, I took the step. I know the archives suggest that I began in october 2005, but that was just a pretend-post to fix my profile picture or something like that. No, it was 11th January when I posted my first proper post. Ok. There was one on 10th January, which consisted of the immortal words "A test to see whether this will work... Out there... ???", to which three kind souls replied, and so began the adventure that was/is this blog. The impetus to start a blog came from the urge to join the online group following The Artist's Way, led by Leah, who is now leading the Creative Every Day 2008 group.

I'm a fairly boring blogger, stuck in my ways. I haven't changed the design (template?) in any way in all this time. Only recently, I went in to change the words on my profile which described me as "heading towards fifty" to the more correct (now) "just past fifty". The rest of that description still holds true, though. I love the new paths and alleyways I get to explore through blogging. Last week, and this, I've encountered new-to-me blogs (I know - among the thousands, millions maybe... that are out there) which thrilled me, encouraged me, inspired me, humbled me, and which I've had to add to my list of blogs to check in with whenever I have a chance. I've never acquired the technical skill to allow me to make big changes, and I'm still at a total loss as to how to do what I see other people do regarding "feeds" and "subscribing". It's all a mystery to me. But that's a side-track there - right there!

My first post was about slaying (no, not slaying... reassuring!) my Creative Monsters. They still come to visit from time to time, telling me my blog is a pointless exercise, that it's sheer self-indulgence, blah-blah-blah, but these days, they don't stay long, and I usually manage to simply turn them around and say "Come back when you've something useful to tell me!" In that post too, I finished with this quote:

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness. ---Thich Nhat Hanh

The blog-world has been one of the most powerful instruments to convince me of how un-separate, how connected we all are. People do come and go here. I wonder about some of the people who have disappeared. Did they start other blogs elsewhere? I realise there are blogs I've lost my connection to. When I changed computers I lost a lot of my links, and some just never re-emerged for me.

In working The Artist's Way, in meeting others along the same path, I found such community, such a sense of being held and welcomed, cheered along, understood, it became possible to really envision things I would have previously dismissed. This is how I took the step of booking to travel to the US for the first time, to take SoulCollage(R) facilitator training, to travel at times alone, and to discover - for myself - a whole new world.

This was not the only new venture for me since I began the blog. I've qualified as a Bach Flower Remedy Practitioner, I've graduated from university. I've become a member of the regular workforce. I've written ad nauseum about many of those things. I've written for Sunday Scribblings and for Poetry Thursday. While I haven't gotten into a regular habit of writing for Writers' Island, and my weekly Haiku have all-but fallen by the wayside, I keep their buttons on my sidebar, because I love such ventures. I love that, all over blogland there are groups and communities forming, melding, shifting, evolving, opening to receive new members, and that there is such goodwill, such kindness, such genuine positive energy being shared with no agenda, for the most part. Most of the blogs I visit have no advertising. There is no gain other than connection, nothing I experience other than the open-heartedness of one human being for others who pass their way.

I've read back over my archives during the past couple of weeks. I've surprised myself that there are insights and pieces of writing here and there of which I could say "I like that a lot". This blog has been a companion and a friend to me, a home and an open door, through which have come so many wonderful people, with your questions and comments.

I'm looking forward to the next two years. I don't know what they will hold. I know some of the plans and intentions I have for them, but I don't know how they will manifest exactly. I do know that I would like to still be here, still turning up, still doing my disappearing-act now and then, and still returning refreshed and re-energised.

This blog has become my home. You are my neighbours. I love when you pop in for a cup of coffee. I really value the deep, important things you say, and the "How's it going? Nice day!" shout-outs. I'm not naming anyone, because the list is too, too long, and I don't want to leave anyone out, but I hope you all know that I value you more than any words can say.

Blessings to you all, my friends.

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Friday Feast; Blogiversary; Etc, Etc.

There's a weekly meme I've seen on many blogs from time to time, and I've always been intrigued, and thought "Oh, I'd like to join in on that", but I very seldom seem to come across it on Friday, which is the point, so I'd say to myself, "Oh, well.... next week. I'll join in next week", and then I'd forget on Friday to check the questions, and on Sunday, I'd spot it on someone's blog, and say "Oh......" and so the cycle has gone for months now.

BUT today is Friday, and I went over there - to Friday's Feast, and picked up today's questions, so here's my first venture into Friday's Feast:

Appetizer What is your middle name? Would you change any of your names if you could? If so, what would you like to be called?

My middle name is Christina (I usually say Christine, which I prefer), after my maternal Grandmother. When I was small, I loved those moments when my mother would use Amelia as a really affectionate alternative to my first name (Imelda), but I'm not sure I'd want to be called anything other than the name I've now carried for 50 years.

Soup If you were a fashion designer, which fabrics, colors, and styles would you probably use the most?

I'm thinking I'd like to bring back cheesecloth, tunics with lots of embroidery. The clothes I wore when I was 15 or 16. Afghan coats - what I wished for and never had. More embroidery. Hippie stuff. Mixtures of rainbow colours.

Salad What is your least favorite chore, and why?

My least favourite chore... hmm... cleaning floors. Doesn't matter whether that means vacuuming, sweeping or mopping. I don't believe in just half-doing it, so it's a production of moving furniture, lifting things off the floor... so I end up sweaty, exhausted, and with a sore back, BUT I just love the result. I feel really satisfied with myself when the floors are all gleaming / fluff-free.

Main Course What is something that really frightens you, and can you trace it back to an event in your life?

For many people in Ireland, the hugely destructive tsunami of a few years ago was the first time they'd ever really thought about tidal waves. Some had to be told what the word 'tsunami' meant, but as far back as I can remember, I've had a fear of tidal waves. Makes no logical sense - in that I don't live in a place that's likely to be hit by one, but at times, I can be looking out to sea, and begin to imagine that wall of water coming towards me... oh, makes me shudder even to speak of it. Trace it back? Well... I had a near-drowning accident swimming in a river when I was maybe 8 years old (My cousin pulled me out. I don't think we ever told the adults!) and it's possible that I learnt of tidal waves about the same time, and connected in to the feeling...

By the way, it doesn't stop me from enjoying being by the sea. But driving on the Northern California/Oregon coast when I first visited the US in 2006, I had a moment or two when I began to notice these signs. It didn't force me inland, but I can't say it was comfortable knowing the possibility was real there.

Dessert Where are you sitting right now? Name 3 things you can see at this moment.

I'm sitting on one of my living-room couches (cream leather), tucked up with one chennille throw and one mohair. Cosy, cosy. And I can see through my window (1) the Southern sky filled with bright white clouds, and sillhouetted against them,(2) bare tall birches, one of which contains (3) a long-abandoned bird's nest


If you decide to join in, go let them know over at Friday's Feast, won't you.

Today's my Two-Year Blogiversary! I can hardly believe it. I was going to say something here, but I think that deserves a post all of its own, actually, so ..... later.....

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

5 really good things

The wonderful Liz at Be Present, Be Here has been sharing 5 really good things or moments on her blog, and today, she posted some pictures from her trip to Walt Disney World. Oh! All good. She asks that we list our own 5 really good moments or things.

5...... Right now, really good moments, cosy in my fleece dressing-gown, while a gale blows outside, and I'm snug and warm.

4..... Tonight's dinner. In keeping with my intention to pump up the health level of my meals, I created a vegetable dish with cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, spinach, red onion, - stirfried and dashed with balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Doesn't sound much. Tasted wonderful!

3..... The little accordion book I made to contain my New Year's SoulCollage card reading. I'm tickled pink that I made it. I'm delighted with it

2...... Yesterday, taking down my Christmas tree, saying farewell til next year to all my little treasures - old and new, dancing to a CD of 80's music my brother put together for me, and feeling entirely happy in my own space, and really grateful for the time I've had over the past two weeks for ruminating, thinking, re-connecting here in blogland.

One last look......(I know it doesn't look very magical in the cold light of day. Imagine it lit up!!)

1.... Getting word today that everyone who took my first Psychology class passed the exam they sat in September. Phew! My first brood of chickens have made it through! That is a really good thing, a really Good Moment.

Want to share your 5 good things? I'd love to see what they are. (And so would Liz, who started it, after all!)


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Creative Every Day. Week 1

In this first week of the challenge set by Leah to live more creatively I thought there would be slim pickings around here. I'm not writing, painting, drawing. I don't even have yarn on knitting needles at the moment. Yet I felt drawn to sign up, and to see in what ways I could give more attention to the things I've been doing.

I got my camera out again. I'd neglected it in recent times.

When I went to make soup, I snapped this picture. These vegetables became my own version of Mulligatawny soup, which , along with some oatcakes, made this evening's supper. Absolutely delicious, I must say. And I can feel very virtuous, in that there was barely a scintilla of olive oil in it, and no other fat. Just good veggies and lovely curry flavour. Rich and satisfying. Yummy.

There was more soup. Wonderful creamy red pepper soup, too - all in quantities to allow for a freezer stocked with soup for quite a while. And chilli. It must have been the drop in temperatures that preceded the first snowfall of the winter here that made me want to stock up on richly filling, warming foods.

And while I peeled and chopped, stirred and tested, I ruminated and planned, wondered and wished, and my intentions and plans for the coming year coalesced into shape. Drawing on what I'd said on my first post on the subject, and the idea of a single word to be a talisman, a watchword throughout the year, as Christine Kane suggests, I decided that Prayerfulness would be the word I want to permeate my actions this year. It fits into the intentions I'd stated already. In ways it's about mindfulness, too, but with gratitude.

Then, yesterday, I did a reading of my SoulCollage cards to choose four to be my guides through the year. I posted about it on my SoulFragments blog. As a way of keeping those four guides present to me during the year, I followed Noelle Remington's directions and made a little accordion-book with copies of my four cards, and the words associated with them from this reading. I've never made anything like this before, but I must have been ready, because I had a huge choice of papers and cards to choose from to make it. I chose purplish-shades, as the chakra-energy that emerged was the 6th chakra, and I thought this colour was close. Here is the finished product. I'm really pleased with it. The cards are on the front, the words on the back., and it all ties up in a pretty starry package.

And now I realise that, while I said I'd done no writing this week, I'm actually quite happy that my blogs have come back to life. Simply having time has made a difference, and I have been writing more here than in quite a long time.

And there were those 3 little poems I wrote on postcards and sent out to participants on the Perennial Postcard project. So there was some writing after all.

So the week started better than I'd thought. Now I'm going to check out a few of the participants' blogs. I wish I had time to get around to everyone, but know I won't. But I do wish every one of the participants well with their creative efforts this week.

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Sunday Scribbling: New

There's a new feeling I've been carrying around for a while. It came upon me unexpectedly, and at first, I wasn't sure I could trust it to last, so I just let it sit a while. Every so often, I returned, gave a gentle poke to see was it still there, and sure enough, it stirred, sighed, said "Yes, I told you, I'm home! Now let me just settle in, will you!" What to name it? Acceptance? Forgiveness? Whatever the name for it, it's brought a new peace to my heart that is very welcome. This has been the first Christmas and New Year that I have not wept for five years. What a gift!

It turned up so easily, just when I'd accepted that I was probably going to go through the rest of my life carrying a certain level of sadness, of pain at the end of my marriage. One morning - the morning of the solstice, as it happens - random thoughts about the things we do that limit us in our lives, the things I can so easily see friends doing that bog them down, led to the simple question: Well, what is it you are carrying around that limits you, that restricts your freedom, that holds you back? And the answer was instant, simple. My woundedness. I knew that if I asked any friend that question, they would have given me this answer.

And inside me, something broke loose and began to float away. The knot of bitter feelings, of regret began to unravel itself, and I knew, that if D, my erstwhile husband was to invite me in for tea, I would now be able to say "Yes, thank you, that would be nice". Just knowing that was huge for me. This was NEW. Sudden. Somewhat shocking. But oh, I was so ready for this.

And that very day, passing through a shopping centre, I got a chance to test out the feeling - for there he was, having tea at a cafe, and when I stopped to chat, I checked myself out. Was my heart racing? Was I having bitter, bitchy thoughts? No. I really wasn't. When he invited me to join him for coffee, I did, and when I was ready to go, I wished him a happy Christmas, gathered my packages, and left, walking up the street, surprised with myself for the lack of turmoil, for the peace I felt.

Maybe it will slip away again, but now I know that I can experience this sense of peace. This is the gift I have been most thankful for this year. This is the New thing I welcome most.
If you would like to see what other Sunday Scribblers had to say about "New/New Year" check it out HERE

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Friday, January 04, 2008

Bits of Thursday

Today (or yesterday, since midnight has now passed) was a good day: A day when I spend time with my son is a good day. A day where we travel together and eat together is even better. We had lunch, then went to visit his aunt, and then I took him to the train, as he heads back into his life in Dublin. As we drove, we spoke of his memories of childhood Christmasses. I realised that my memories were reinforced throughout my childhood in the conversations my siblings and I would have about Christmas... "Remember the time... What about the gift you got..." Being an only child, my son's memories had already begun to slide away. We hauled some of them back from the brink, dusted them off. Laughed .... Phew!

I caught up with an old friend. We had an impromptu dinner together, and it was good. The timing was right. I got to be there just when she needed a visit. I found her at home just when I wanted to see her. ... And she gave me a late Christmas gift of a voucher for something I'd just put on my mental "Must Have this year" list - a seaweed bath! Hurrah for synchronicity!


I got to spend a little time in the town I lived in for 16 years, exploring new shopping areas, checking out a snazzy coffee-spot (good hot chocolate too). I had a bit of a book-shopping spree, and was especially glad to find Betty Edwards' Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain workbook. - Might kick-start me to exploring drawing again. I enjoyed following the book for a while a few years ago, but came to a full stop when it came to perspective. Maybe the workbook will help. I'd like to do some drawing this year, and to get over that barrier. While I don't think I'll be up to being Creative every day, I'd like to think I might do something every week this year. I'm excited at what is happening over at Leah's blog, though. Her lovely list of possible creative activities includes such things as colouring in a book, re-ordering a bookshelf, or making hot chocolate. Looking at it that way, I suppose I am creative every day.

I've been participating in a poetry postcard project since September, sending and receiving poems (Yes, on postcards!) and getting quite a kick from finding these little treasures among my mail. So far, I've received 10 cards and sent out 11. When I made my hot-chocolate-stop today, I had no reading material with me, and no notebook! but I did have a few postcards in my bag, so I wrote 3 poems to send off to the next people on the list. I think people can join in at any time, as it's a Perennial Postcard project. Wanna join in?...

Driving home, I met the first snow of the winter. And some freezing fog. I drove slowly, with Christmas music playing. I loved it. Everywhere looks magical in the snow. I hope it's still around tomorrow when I wake up. I want to take photos. I want to go out wearing my (fake) fur hat. I want to build a snowman.

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

and 2007 yields to 2008

Over the past few days, my thoughts have been circling around the summary of the year that was 2007 for me, and about the coming year and what I want and/or expect to find there. My annual practice of reviewing my year at my birthday was shelved this year, as I simply didn't find the time to do it. On the weekend of my birthday, there was the party, there were houseguests, and, unlike past years, on the monday, instead of finding myself at home again with abundant time, I was out into the world of work, meetings, busy-ness. The wonderful luxury of unlimited time to myself no longer mine. The weekends between my birthday and Christmas somehow passed without me bringing out my journal to pause, to reflect, to acknowledge the year that led to my 50th birthday.

And Christmas came, and I travelled to my hometown, spent time with my family. I did resurrect my morning pages journal (once), but even then didn't give the time to my usual review of the year. I need to slow down. I need to breathe. I need to give myself - now - that time. If I don't reflect on the past year with some attention, then I am likely to just run pell-mell into the coming year without proper direction, so it's a necessary exercise.

This is all part of the big, big learning and transition which 2007 presented to me. In going into the regular workforce, I've been given the challenge of finding the balance in my life; of identifying those elements of my life which must be continued, honoured, accommodated in my lifestyle, and those which no longer serve me, which I can let go; and this is what's going on at the moment. It's taking time to notice the places where pressure is put on my energy resources, and to make the shifts. I'm noticing what I miss from my old life, and in noticing, reminding myself that I need to find ways to maintain those things. Like this review. I actually need to sit with my journal - not just Morning Pages - to check in with myself at least monthly, but preferably weekly. Pause. Sit. Say "Hello, how is everything?"

So my first intention for 2008 is to Name the first Sunday of the month my Journal day. I'll be giving at least 2 hours to my journal on that day. I can use it more often, but this will be my commitment.

During 2007, a lot changed for me, arising out of the change in my employment. For a start, I applied for a job, prepared for and sat an interview, for the first time since 1979! And got the job. That was a big deal for me, a huge achievement, an affirmation.

Arising from that, came the whole process of shifting my perception of myself to a more professional image. I took the challenge of teaching a class in psychology. Ran a 20 week course, prepared my students for an exam, and am half-way through the same course again. Yes, it was a scary prospect, Yes, I had inner whisperings of doubt, but I went ahead despite them, and it's going well.

I finished the work on redecorating the downstairs of my home. Created a therapy room, used it. Made my living-room really comfortable. Removed the broken chairs, the unloved cushions. Celebrated with new pieces of art. Hung the pieces that had languished against walls and hadn't been properly appreciated.

In 2007, I've been trusting my intuition, letting impulses guide me as to where I'd like to go. When the urge hit me to book a place at the August SoulCollage(R) facilitators' conference, I just went ahead and booked to go back to California. What a wonderful trip that was! My soul-connection to that place, and to the friends I've made there is one of my life's great gifts. I'm so glad I followed my intuition there, that I went off and discovered Yosemite all on my own.

Part of my intention for 2008 is to return again to California- I have a reason to go! When I wondered how I could justify a third trip the universe answered, with an invitation to go in late June 2008 - just as my work finishes for the summer. So go I will, to begin training as a SoulCollage facilitator-trainer. I'm so honoured to have been invited to do this, and so excited at the prospect.

On the past 2 visits, I've stayed in Northern California, Oregon, Washington. This year, I'm intending to go south, and to meet up with friends, old and new, from real life and from BlogLand. I'm willing to bring my poetry and SoulCollage wherever the wind may blow me, to share in whatever ways present.

Last year, 2007, saw me move my SoulCollage practice from a comfortable setting in which I invited friends to my home occasionally to make cards to a new stage, where I organised and promoted a series of public workshops, which went really well. I was so happy with the response, and have been delighted that the women who have attended the workshops have now become a community of SoulCollage artists, always glad to come together again. My commitment for 2008 is to Bring SoulCollage to the other 3 provinces of Ireland, with at least one workshop in each. Plans are under way, but not completed yet.

When I found myself in a regular job, I took a couple of steps which have been helpful for my health. - Began a regimen of supplements to maintain health, and I've been going to bed at reasonable hours - enough to get 7-8 hours sleep. What I've been aware of, but haven't done anything about, is a need to return to a pattern of eating that will help me lose 40 lbs. I'd stopped going to WeightWatchers, (who helped me reach my goal weight 5 years ago) and I realise that the regular meetings are necessary to keep me focused. So, I'll be committing to Re-joining WeightWatchers, and to keeping track of my eating.

With so much focus on my job, I allowed a few of the other happenings of 2007 to slip by without giving them as much attention as they deserved: When I was invited to give a poetry workshop for schoolchildren in my hometown, I went ahead and did it, and it was so enjoyable! I found myself in my first (and probably only ever) autograph-scrum, with a milling crowd of 11-year-olds begging me to sign their notebooks, bookmarks... whatever! As work and SoulCollage take up much of my time, I don't want my poetry to be sidelined completely, so I'm committing to taking a writing retreat during the Easter holidays - whether that be something organised, or something I just plan for myself. I want to submit poems to journals again, and to really be an active and productive member of my writers group.

I know this is a very long post, but it's written mainly as a reminder to myself, so I'm not going to shorten it in any way, or to leave out what's the most important intention for the year - the intention I repeat over and over in my life, returning to in cycles. My spiritual life is the source of the energy for everything else. Without a foundation of spiritual energy, nothing else I do is worth doing, so before any of the other actions that I've spoken of above, the intention to reaffirm a Commitment to daily prayer and reading of the Holy Writings is the one I want to focus on first.

For the past number of years, I've been trying to live in a way that makes me open to opportunities, to new ideas, to suggestions of possibility. I've been trying to accept challenges, to take risks, to try something new. Life has been rewarding, rich and wonderful, and I want to remain open to whatever may present unexpectedly in the coming year. I want to be flexible, to not be stuck on a road that isn't bringing me in the right direction. I want to be ready to try a side-road, or to double back to check out something glimpsed away in the distance. With all the intentions I've stated, I'd like to keep this intention also. To be open, to be ready to change.

If you have read this far - You are a true friend! If you want to share reflections on the year past, and intentions for the coming year, please let me know in the comments. I've been inspired by reading other bloggers posts on their plans and goals, and would like to cheer you along with yours too!

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