From this poem by Mary Oliver.
Do you remember this?
I printed it out some time ago and have just put it on a wall in a more prominent place. It speaks (in my favourite Quaker phrase) to my condition....
Grilled halloumi, with watermelon, blueberries and spinach - eating a rainbow. Yum.
The anniversary of Barry's death was a day of sunshine and rainbows. I spent it quietly with family and searched out a few happy photos and letters and cards to share.
There were tears, of course.
Yet there was also a change in me.
I felt, and still feel, more peaceful about it, and found myself doing some of the (many) things I have been procrastinating about, and finding to my surprise that they were not as onerous, difficult, time consuming or as expensive as I had imagined them to be.
And here come the daffodils...
Do you find too, when you finally get around to something you have been putting off for ages, that it is not as bad as you thought and that you wonder why you didn't just do it sooner?
PS I have framed the picture of the resolute child (yesterday's post) and hung it in the hall to inspire me. Thank you Lynne.
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 :-)
I think the answer to many of life's big questions might be Sometimes.
Is the world a good place? Sometimes.
Am I happy? Sometimes.
Are people essentially good? Sometimes.
Are human beings warlike? Sometimes.
Six year old Scott answers many questions with Maybe or Perhaps or Probly and if you ask him to do something he doesn't want to do he says No thanks with a simplicty and charm that disarms you, and you find yourself saying Oh, ok then to his back as he walks off to do whatever it is he'd much rather be doing...
A book intruigingly called Happy. Why More Or Less Everything Is Absolutely Fine by Derren Brown is on my Christmas wish list. In it is this quotation from Rainer Maria Rilke's Letter To A Young Poet
Things are not all as graspable and sayable
as on the whole we are led to believe.
Most events are unsayable,
occur in a space that no word has ever penetrated
Perhaps this is why we have painting and music, and dance and ritual.
And why the candle placed in the garden by our daughter tonight on what would have been my husband's birthday says so much more than I can possibly say.
A walk in the forest lifts the spirits. It's good for the body and for the soul.
The paths are carpeted with larch needles. Unlike the crunch of crisp leaves this makes for a very quiet walk. The snow remains only on the higher slopes.
Most of the trees are bare, but the birch and the hazel are hanging on to their leaves.
The elegant shape of the young trees shows up all the more.
It's a shame in a way that we almost always coppice hazel (useful wood, more nuts) when you see what a beautiful single stem tree it can be.
Do you have somewhere you can walk in nature?
And do you have a Winter Plan?
I had to add this shot of the view from the sofa at 4.30 this afternoon. It was so very beautiful (the photo does not do it justice at all!) The sky was pink and the snow was white, then the snow was pink and the sky was blue....I nipped outside for some logs and it was so ferociously stonily cold it was a bit scary. The birds were having a quick last feed on the window feeder but I could not catch one of them on camera - chaffinches, blue tits, great tits and coal tits fast and furious! You do wonder that they survive.
I hope you are warm and cosy wherever you are tonight.
There had to be one didn't there?
See it here if you have not yet seen it...
It's clever and says a lot about resilience and wit, but I can't quite laugh yet (as Hillary would say 'It hurts') ...I'll stick with the original thanks! See yesterday's post.
The death of a dear uncle is giving me pause. He died early on Wednesday morning and I found myself glad that he would not have known the result of the American election. Even at the age of 97 he took a great interest in politics, philosophy and current affairs. Hopping on and off buses with him when he was 96 I asked him if he ever took taxis and he replied, quite seriously, 'I will when I'm older'.
I will miss him, and am thinking of the ways in which he inspired me in order to build some of his good habits into my own life....
We are lucky to have really good public transport here - if I could only master the timetables I'd have no complaint. A recent trip to Edinburgh involved a bus, a ferry, two further buses, and a taxi when I ran out of patience with timetables on the last leg..
It's the connections of course that are the tricky part, with such variables as summer/winter, schooldays/non-schooldays, schooldays Thu and Fri only/schooldays Mon - Wed only, Saturday only/Sunday only, Bank holidays/local public holidays, holiday service on Glasgow Fair Monday and Paisley Fair Monday (no dates!) departs from up the glen/departs the other end of the village, only comes as far as the next village 6 miles away at certain times of day (varying according to school days as above), The car/passenger ferry is very reliable - only ever cancelled in gale force 8 and above, the passenger only ferry (known as 'the bathtub) is often cancelled when the weather is poor. The timetable states - 'All information is subject to change without notice. Argyll Ferries accepts no liability for any inaccuracy....' This ferry links with trains to Glasgow if 'link' is the right word. Waits can be from only 8 minutes to 50 minutes.
Gretchen Rubin of The Happiness Project talks of trying to cure herself of impatience in trying situations by finding a calm response with for example a 'waiting in line meditation'. I think I must develop a 'waiting for bus' meditation and 'waiting for ferry' meditation!
....and the friends I have made here!
Yesterday I met up with Grace who has been reading and commenting on the blog for a long time. (I hope I won't embarrass her if I say she is as lovely as her name.) We met in the Botanic Gardens (see this post). I carried a copy of the New European newspaper so that she would recognise me! It seemed a fair assumption that she would be a European at heart as she lives in Paris. I didn't have to brush up my French though as, like me, she grew up and studied in Glasgow.
We had a delightfully long lunch at Kember and Jones in Byres Road (an old student haunt for us both) and a coffee sitting outside in the sun in the Botanic Gardens.
Whether here on the blog or in person I do have fun in the company of my blog friends....thank you all so much.
Julia's comment yesterday reminded me of this -
Customer services: 'We are currently experiencing a high level of calls....'
The music they played while I waited the other morning was so jazzy I decided to exercise while I waited and jumped around the sitting room changing the phone from one ear to the other for the sake of symmetry - I got a full 10 minute workout before someone took my call.
It reminded that I have come some way since this post when my feet, to my disbelief and dismay, simply refused to leave the floor.
Choreographing my grief since my husband's death has been the hardest thing I have ever done, and is still too raw to write much about, but I have found that when I let it (the grief) choreograph me, I sometimes make more progress.
By that I mean that there is a to and fro thing going on and it helps if I am aware of when to make decisions and push myself a bit, and when to just be with it, to accept the pain of it. I tend to the former being a pro-active kind of person and basically an optimist, but the phrase 'don't push the river, it flows by itself' has come into my head at times....when I just have to accept that there is no way out but through.
The bottom line is I miss him terribly, and such loss as many of you will know has to be, as someone wise said, not so much accepted as accomodated and adapted to. The 'new reality' the kind funeral director called it.
Meantime I am trying not to put my life on hold....
I found this book by Michael Rosen to be an unflinching portrayal of the reality of loss and grief, the drawings by Quentin Blake as poignant and expressive as Rosen's simple words.
Meanwhile it snowed here for an hour or two this morning! I don't know which was more mesmerizing - the snowflakes, or the pages of Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay by Elena Ferrante, the third of the four Neapolitan Novels which are a compelling read.
I have loved being a wife, a mother, a teacher, and often say my most precious possession is my own front door key, but I've been remembering the spaces in between when I enjoyed being on my own.
Playing truant from school! Going to Art School. Going on courses. Taking a day into the city on my own. Going back to university as a mature student. I loved it! Artist in residence at Caol Rhuad.
There are some light hearted prompts in Julia Cameron's book The Artist's Way especially in the chapter Recovering A Sense Of Power. For example she asks you to complete 20 sentences such as I don't do it much but I enjoy.... and My favourite childhood toy was....I worked through this book with a friend many years ago and we got a lot from it. Artist Dates are something I will take up again.
Christina Rasmussen in Second Firsts also suggests ways of looking back in order to look forward and suggests you get to know your Survivor, Watcher and Thriver. Especially the Thriver.
Interesting and useful, as are many of your suggestions recently. And keeps my mind occupied while I mow the lawn, fix the lock, barrow stuff to the bonfire and wire up the greenhouse door against that strong north wind which they say will bring us snow tomorrow....
..for tulips, curry plant and a couple of stems of raspberry.
A tip. If your flowers are a bit short for the vase crumple some of the cellophane in the bottom. I spotted this in a branch of Waterstones last year.
It's quite pretty in a clear vase....
Life has taken on an element of farce lately!
I got blown out of the car in the hospital car park and in the blink of an eye found myself on the ground wondering how I got there. (Right place? Someone rushed over with a wheelchair! Fortunately I didn't need it, I was only bruised). I got a nasty tummy bug which meant I couldn't visit Barry in hospital even when the ferries were running, we had a power cut (not very long but long enough that I had to make contingency plans) and the computer and phone were down, and right at the tail end of the latest storm three panes of glass blew out of the greenhouse. Actually they were sucked out - the broken glass is all on the outside - how could that happen? Much the same way as I got sucked out of the car I guess.
Barry continues to be a patient patient as they proceed with test and more tests.
If you can send me any links to anything funny, I sure could do with some laughs....
I wasn't sure whether to continue with the blog just now, while my husband is ill.
What would I write about?
Would I feel like writing anyway?
But I love writing the blog, I always say it helps me think, it is a focal point in the day and the friendly and supportive conversations with commenters always give me more to think about. In recent days for example (from the comments) - the power of positive thinking and goodwill, the comfort of routines and ordinary things in times of stress, the instinct to nest to feel secure, the obviously innate desire we have to support each other in difficult times, the idea of silver linings, virtual hugs (almost as good as real ones!), the downsides of country living, looking after oneself, finding the balance between waiting and putting things on hold and still living one's days fully............there is plenty of scope there, do you think?
And since we all experience illness and stress at sometime in our lives maybe it will be relevant to keep blogging.
Here are three things I am very grateful for today -
Our National Health Service here in UK
Holiday insurance (Oh Venezia....)
When you experienced difficult times what were the things you were most grateful for?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)