Taken from the train on my beautiful journey to here
I'm supposing (my word for 2017) that it's ok with you if I take an extended blog break....
I love this image. It is from another Christmas card. It seems to me to capture something very moving about friendship, especially womens' friendships, and about the way I feel about the friends I have made here.
I'm so grateful for your friendship, kindness and support.
I will continue with the occasional post for a bit, just to stay in touch....I do intend to be back - just not sure when :-)
.... a new life. As we all are in one way or another.
The Guardian newspaper runs a series of articles called Widower of The Parish by a man whose wife has died....He says 'Once you have accepted that the life you had is unrecoverable, you might just be able to create a new one that isn't just simply the old one but sadder.'
This item from Christina Rasmussen's blog struck a chord with me, particularly as I am going on a train journey soon.
Sometimes I listen to these meditations and find them helpful.
Snippets from a conversation or a song can resonate - 'One day I'll fly away, leave all this to yesterday.' which I thought of when I flew to Berlin.
2016 will always be for me the year that my husband Barry died, the hardest year I ever had, and much of it felt like wading through treacle. In slow motion. Exhausting.
I like this little being from a Christmas card - Just how I feel of late..a bit fragile, wobbly, but still upright!
Here's to wobbling on :-)
OK I know it's a bit early in the year to get serious, after all it's not even the Twelfth Day of Christmas yet. (It's a bit early for Easter too but there were Hot Cross Buns on sale in the supermarket today! Truly!)
Seth Godin's recent post chimes so well with my reading lately that I just have to share it with you. I have been re-reading Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves To Death (1986) and watching a YouTube video of the same man at the beginning of the internet age in Six Questions On Technology. It is 45 minutes long and I found it worth listening to, but if you want the short version (haha Seth) go to 42 minutes
I realise that one of his questions - and you know I like a good question - has stayed with me and influenced me quite a bit in my search for a simpler life. It is:
What is the problem to which this technolgy is the solution?
Poppy, are you listening to me?
This was my favourite photograph from Berlin (mostly they were terrible, of which more later).
Since I came home I have been drinking ginger tea the way it was served to me in a little florist/cafe in Schoeneberg. The kind of place where you could go with your notebook and pen and sit for an hour. An array of candles, amaryllis and Christmas foliage, inside and out on the pavement, a few tables, a good choice of coffees and teas. I expected a sachet of ginger tea, but was served a beautiful bowl - no handle - good to warm your hands on on a freezing day - with strips of fresh ginger in the bottom, and in another small dish on the side a generous amount of beautiful creamy honey.
The work of moments.
I won't be going back to sachets.
My word for 2017 has been difficult to find.
Here are some I've considered: energy, vitality, wellness, well-being, autonomy, flourish (a close second),permission, and others, but I have settled on
Supposing it is ok to say no
Supposing it is alright to admit I am sad just now
Supposing it is alright to be happy when I am not being sad
Supposing I'm allowed to buy this for myself
Supposing it is alright to not do this, or that
Supposing it is ok just to be myself
Supposing I choose not to believe that
Supposing the sky wouldn't fall in if I..
If I choose to look at my worries and anxieties and sorrow in this way it seems to me I give myself options and open up new possibilities.
Have you chosen a word to guide and inspire you through this new year?
I found myself starting the day, and the year, with 30 minutes of yoga on a site I chanced upon and bookmarked ages ago.
The name of this first class is Ease Into It.
I like Adriene's chat. She says things like -
Keep it playful.
Make it your own here.
To each his own.
Drop into this moment for yourself.
A nice experience that feels good.
Be honest with yourself.
All rather good ways to start a yoga session, and to start a new year I thought.
May 2017 bring you good things!
Easy does it....
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out wild bells and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind
For those that here we see no more;
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care, the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right.
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land
Ring in the Christ that is to be.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1850
A bit late for this year perhaps, but here is a nice solution to the How to tell them about Santa question. (This is not my idea and I am sorry I cannot credit it, but I don't remember where I read it.)
When you sense the time is right you take your child to a coffee shop perhaps - somewhere 'grown up' and just with you, if you can. You say you have noticed how much they have grown up this past year, and you have often noticed how kind they can be, so you think perhaps they are old enough now to learn how to become a Santa.
You describe Santa's job - surprising people with thoughtful gifts and making them happy - and you suggest they give it a trial this Christmas by choosing someone (perhaps a neighbour, or a younger sibling?) figuring out what they might want or need, and getting it to them for Christmas without them knowing who sent it.
The example given was a solitary woman who spoke to no-one and was seen lifting in her morning milk from her doorstep in bare feet. The child had to guess what size slippers etc etc and deliver them without being seen on Christmas Eve. The writer descibed the look of delight on his child's face when seeing the woman come to her door wearing the slippers as 'unforgettable' and I can believe it. Whether apocryphal or not, the story appeals as an approach to 'telling the truth' about Father Christmas that may have a lot of mileage in it. It could be seen as a kind of right of passage, which would surely encourage thoughtfulness and unselfishness...
It would certainly be nicer than my experience when my naughty cousin told me 'the truth' in bed on Christmas Eve!
There are quite a few posts about children's Christmas books under Simply Christmas. Here is one with further links within if by chance you have any time to browse!
Waiting for pianist Rudolf Buchbinder and a programme of Beethoven and Bruckner at the Berlin Philharmonic.
I've been given the gift of 12 months of the Berlin Phil live concerts available on my laptop - tonight Sir Simon Rattle conducting Wagner - extra exciting now that I have actually been there. See their interesting website here to find out more.
Do you have a favourite musical experience? I do agree with Penny who said in yesterday's comments that music can transcend everything.
The Bach Christmas Oratorio in the Berliner Dom was thrilling.
A dusting of snow on the hills at home today...and here is a poem for the solstice.
I was staying with my artist friend Lynne Cameron who is living and working in Berlin and has an exhibition at Under The Mango Tree Gallery in the attractive Schoneberg district - good restaurants, stylish clothes shops, great coffee shops and a Saturday market with traditional German cakes, Turkish food and Polish specialities, Christmas foliage and amaryllis and masses of mistletoe.
See Lynne's work here and read what she says about the recent tragedy here at The Empathy Blog.
I got back from a wonderful few days in Berlin yesterday afternoon and am so dismayed at how the atmosphere - so friendly, civilized, festive and delightful when we visited this beautiful market on Friday - must have changed to one of horror since the violent attack on innocent people last night.
I am full of admiration for all those Berliners who made a point of attending the Christmas markets today.
A Simple Christmas and a quiet one.
I've been browsing my own Simply Christmas posts and getting tearful.
Someone (it may have been a child) said 'Tears let the sad out' and it's true.
I will post the simplest of posts this season - maybe just photographs - or little references to happy Christmases past like this one.
Some lovely things are planned, and I have friends and family to share them with, and I know you will understand if I go a bit quiet for a while....love to you all from my hearth to yours. Enjoy all the preparations, hug your loved ones and if you are grieving a loss too, I hope you also have the comfort of good friends and good memories.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)