No-one leads a charmed life but it behoves us (I love that old-fashioned word) to pay attention to what charm there is.
It would be churlish not to, don't you think?
I always carry a small notebook with me and yesterday I went through several of them copying down information I wanted to keep into what I call my 'catch-all' notebook.
I came across a page or two I had written when my husband Barry was dying in February 2016. The idea of micri and megali came into play in that experience. I was focussed on being with him in the hospice and the minutiae of his care and the intensity of being totally in the moment. But on the way to and from the hospice which was a journey by car, bus and ferry, I was intensely conscious of the much much bigger picture - of our small place in the vastness of the universe. Here is what I wrote -
As Barry is dying I notice how brilliantly starry the nights are, how big the moon, how frosty the mornings, and how beautiful the dawns. I open the window to the night to hear with wonder the last melancholy trill of the curlew and the first cry of the owl. Early one morning I walk down the path to the water's edge and see the biggest flock of gulls I have ever seen rise into the air and cross the bay without their usual raucous cries but in utter silence except for the sound of hundreds and hundreds of wingbeats.
It was as if the tiny things, the micri, and the vast things, the megali, were heightened to an extreme - and the in between things hardly existed and were passing in a blur of sorrow and pain.
The nights are still starry, the mornings frosty and the dawns beautiful.
I'm taking a blog break till the end of the month now.
Thank you, as ever, for reading.
Perspective that is..
'Micri y megali? a nurseryman once asked me in Cyprus. He was offering me a free plant and having an all but empty garden I replied 'Megali, parakalo' and he dug up a geranium which totally filled the boot of the car!
I am moving from megali to micri in my perspective on things with a look at a Marie Kondo habit I have really liked. She described how when she came home she emptied her bag into a storage space then when she was going out again collected only the things she needed for that trip into her chosen bag.
It works a treat for me and is second nature to me now. I rarely forget anything, don't end up carrying extra things and everything has it's place on the shelf so I can select in moments what I need. On this shelf are the bags I use most, spare folding bags in different colours, purse, phone, pens, notebook, timetables, Su Doku puzzles torn from a book, discount cards and vouchers. tissues, glasses case and sunglasses, umbrellas, hats, gloves - all stored to be visible in boxes I already had.
Do you have a favourite tip from Marie Kondo that has become a useful habit?
I enjoyed this article by Zadie Smith on Optimism and Despair from the always interesting Brain Pickings Sunday newsletter.
A hygge start to the day. So lucky to be staying home....
Snow on the tops but there is birdsong, a slight warmth in the sun, a certain smell in the air....
Looking backto convince myself it will happen!
I will browse through Simply Grow over the next few weeks to get myself in the mood.
Actually I think the challenge is not so much in the editing as in remembering that, at this point, what I've done is a beautiful experiment, nothing more or less.
So experimenting with fine tuning/tweaking/altering/fixing/adjusting could be just as much fun as the writing was, though with the company of my Inner Editor (see this post).
A chapter by chapter analyisis is the next step.
Gently does it! I love my word for 2018.
How is your word working for you? (Remember you can change it if it isn't....)
I mean chillie warning. I deseeded and chopped a tiny chillie pepper and an hour later rubbed my eyes. Aaaargh! It took another hour of rinsing to take the sting out of them. Very painful.
It's been chilly too...
Designer Bruce Mau advised -
Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Having reacquainted myself with my novel I have to ask myself, says Chris Baty,
Do I want to devote a year of my life to making it better?
I think the answer is yes.
Having a serious creative project is making me feel - grounded.
Do you have a creative project on the go? Serious or otherwise!
Straight to Chapter 9 of Chris Baty's book, called -
I Wrote a Novel. Now What?
He assumes you have had a break since writing (not as long as my break!) and suggests you
'..make a date with your novel. Set aside an entire evening for just the two of you. No phone calls, no visitors and no red pens to catch spelling mistakes. You are going to spend a couple of hours getting reacquainted with your book.'
At this point it sinks in - I have written a book!
And the lilies are opening and strangely scentless...
Don't laugh! Who knew I had so much to say that I could write a daily blog for eight years (I didn't!).
In previous Writing Months (notice the capitals) from 2011 - 2015, I have had fun blogging about finding good places to write, about advice and amusing tips from famous writers, about good first lines of novels, and last lines....
If you are new here I should point out that I only write in Februaries (!) so have been writing my novel for just 5 months in total. See here and here and/or under Simply Write.
This Writing Month I think I will quote from the book which got me started on this crazy idea. Chris Baty started the creative writing experiment National Novel Writing Month NaNoWriMo in 1999 with 21 participants. It has evolved into a world wide movement with about 400,000 participants in 2017!
Have any of you tried it? Are any of you writers? Do you write morning pages, a journal, a blog, articles for magazines, novels? I'd love to hear from you - do join the friendly group of commenters here :-)
..or lack of it!
I know it happens to us all. Filled with self doubt about my novel I so miss Barry's support. I truly believe he thought I could do anything! I looked through the cards he gave me and found the one in which he wrote 'Use your talents to the full.' (See also here.) and sat it on the desk to inspire me.
On a health note, consider this. Good for days when it rains?
I think I will re-instate it as my writing month.
And set up the study as my writing room.
Things may be a bit erratic here for a while as I re-read all my posts under Simply Write and/or past February posts.
But a lovely seriously challenging project to see me through - my novel.
Do you have plans for February or Fabruary as i once mis-!typed it...
A little clutter clearing..
Some daffodils and a special card
Light the stove
As my ancestors watch over me!
Much as I love travelling I always savour that first night back in my own bed. When I got home from York I woke the next morning with my head still full of how life was for ordinary people in medieval York and I though how very rich I am.
I was lying in a soft warm bed in a room of my own (not shared with other people or with animals), between clean sheets of finely woven Egyptian cotton. I rested my head on a soft pillow of duck feathers which was made for me half a world away in China, and the prettily decorated pillowcase was sent from Vietnam. I was wearing a pure cotton nightdress decorated with embroidery and brought from India. A faux fur throw made in Britain gives an extra luxurious feel to the bed. What's more is that I have spares and extras of all of these goods, as have most of the people I know.
It was snowy outside but the room was warm without even a draught of cold air and I could adjust the temperature at the flick of a switch. A flick of a switch also produced instant light. No naked flames are needed for either the heat or the light. At 6 am I heard the huge snow plough and gritter go by. An army of men and women are out during the night working to keep the roads passable. We don't pay directly for this to happen - or have servants to do it for us - but each pays a small amount according to their means. The poorest don't pay anything towards it.
I go downstairs to a clean flushing toilet in a separate room for bathing. The waste is dealt with by sophisticated systems and invisible others, as in all houses, even the poorest. There are scented soaps and lotions and soft towels, and I turn on a tap for instant clean water, both cold and hot.
And this is all before breakfast!
My ancestors would be astonished at how richly I live.
I am too when I think about it.
..phtography from Washington DC (for you Mary!)
A silent four minute meditation.
Thank you Karen.
I expect many of you know more about health retreats than I do but from my one experience of an away retreat and a home retreat here are what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of both.
I think they are both well worth doing by the way!
If you go away for 6 days as I did in January 2017 it can be quite costly. I expect prices vary hugely. But for my money I got lovely accommodation, and freedom from responsibility for it. I had the company of new people which provided a nice distraction, though there was almost complete privacy if you wanted it. All the juices and soups were made for me - no washing up! The programme was varied and interesting with short seminars on many different aspects of health and the chance to try new things if you wanted to. There was a good selection of books and DVD's. Katrina told us to rest as much as possible - so nice to be told that! - and the walks were gentle and varied and a chance to get to know the other participants. I learned a lot.
At home I am lucky to have the same inspiring scenery! It was cost free. I am in the habit of making juices so that was easy - but healthy food is heavy and the amounts of fruit and veg I needed enormous so this took a bit of planning and shopping. I had the comfort of my own bed of course and although not in the luxury bracket I had everything I needed. I found being surrounded by all my usual responsibilities hard to ignore. and a bit of a distraction - not in a good way. I did see friends but motivating myself was not as easy without others doing the same thing. And food in the fridge and biscuits in the cupboard were tempting! I did have a cup of tea and a couple of biscuits late one evening and it didn't feel like the treat I thought it would be. I did have my own books to browse including one bought for the occasion, and I did a lot of research on the internet finding meditations and inspirational videos (thank you blog friends). I didn't walk as much as I would have in a group, but I could make up my own itinerary every day and do what interested me most.
I know I am lucky to be free to do this but if you really want to do something similar you will find a way - a weekend, your lunch hour, or two hours every Wednesday evening for 6 weeks - whatever.
I will try the two hours once a week for a bit, and am thinking of doing another 6 day one in summer....
It was brilliant.
Wishing you good health!
...but (to paraphrase FlyLady) even imperfect efforts bless your body.
If you don't look after your body you won't have anything to live in.
,I am so glad I gifted myself six days to concentrate on my health. (It does take time and maybe no-one else is likely to give that to you!) Time to consider what you need to prioritise, to figure out what suits you and how you can fit it into your lifestyle.
It's easy to be overwhelmed by the barrage of health and wellbeing advice, so much of it contradictory, and much of it taking the form of Only 10 minutes a day to.... Only 30 minutes a day to achieve.... Only 40 minutes etc but by the time you factor in work/childcare/household tasks/others' needs - it all adds up to more than 24 hours!
I am feeling lighter, both literally and metaphorically, and more energetic. I have come up with a new weight beyond which I will not go. I am even more interested in the subject and in finding out more, and am I imagining it, or am I thinking more clearly?
The city again today, but wild and wet. Beetroot and goats cheese tortelloni with sage hit the spot today. How pretty is that? A starter size, eaten slowly, is usually enough.
Tomorrow - the pros and cons (from my very limited experience!) of retreats away or at home
Sunny though very cold. The restaurants had flowers on the tables outside (though everyone was inside) but it looked so jolly and so spring-like and reminded you what it is like to sit outside, and that it might not be too long before we do. Click to enlarge for a pop of colour.
In the station's Piano Garden someone had popped down the suitcase to stop and play something fabulous. I think it would be so thrilling to be able to do that! Do they have street pianos in your town? Whoever thought that up should get a medal.
And Carluccio's exhorted us to make the day Magnifico!
Another reason to be cheerful was that my eyes are 'stable'. Will keep juicing!
And sum up my health week at home when I have got my head round it.
I hope you are enjoying your weekend.
Nearly forgot! 9403 steps!
You are a great bunch!
My determination was flagging last night and this morning. I was feeling good, had lost as much weight as I wanted (and more than I expected) and was thinking maybe 6 days is too much to do on my own, maybe I could stop now
but reading Swissrose's comment I began to look at some videos and the pep talk from Dr Jason Fung and the LCHF video by Dr Andreas Eenfeldt - I love the ethics of his approach described in the last 10 minutes of so - gave me just the boost I needed. I reminded myself that part of the plan was to take the time to do some research, lit the fire, made a juice and sat down to listen and learn.
Tomorrow I visit the opthalmologist. My eyes are the real reason I am doing all this. (See under Simply Seeing - Or Not.) I'm looking for macular regeneration not degeneration..
I think it helps.
And I am fitter!
Lingering snow on the tops. Here below - mud, but 6349 steps.
Lucille's comment yesterday (I immediately went and looked up The 4 Pillars) got me thinking it would be good to take a look at the health and wellbeing books I have found interesting and/or useful over the years.
there has been a huge shift in attitude towards taking responsibility for our own health and wellbeing - ie self help.
I've read lots of these books and found them fascinating. I've always had a craving for sugar and was cured of a (mild) depression and educated about sugar by Potatoes Not Prozac by Kathleen Desmaisons.. I like the writing of the late David Servan-Schreiber, notably Anti Cancer A New Way of Life and Healing Without Freud Or Prozac. You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay I use as a thought provoking reference book every now and then, and books about gut health have been useful (I am a convert to kefir!) Gut by Julia Enders is the one I have kept. Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers was quite influential at one point. Zoe Harcomb probably changed my eating habits more than anyone and my current favourite is Lean For Life by Louise Parker. Her 4 principles are Think Successfully, Live Well, Eat Beautifully, and Work Out Intelligently - which just about covers it all wouldn't you say?
Do you have favourites?
Day Five has gone well except I seem to be doing fewer steps each day!!
Yorkshire Steam II :-)
Day four and all's well.
Skin brushing, water and lemon, morning pages, three juices one soup, two meditation sessions, one short exercise session, 4lbs weight lost, 2079 steps (must do better!), Fly Lady's Home Blessing Hour, some reading, some researching online, and still full of energy. Loving this health week but also planning my next meal...prawn, cucumber and cashew salad I think. Mmm. Looking forward to Friday night.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)