While doing the dishes I paused to watch a blackbird. He was sitting on the grass, beak agape with his wings and tail spread out, basking in the sunshine, occasionally preening the odd feather. (Yes, another suuny day - they alternate between non-stop rain and hot sun!).
So I took a leaf from his book and went and sat on the doorstep among the flowers and the bees.
I pndered on how odd it is that this can be hard to do. Just being I mean - given that we are human be-ings.
Once past childhood we may have to re-learn it with classes and courses on meditation and mindfulness.
I sat there trying not to think of my to-do list and found that if I counted my blessings instead I could quieten my mind and more readily just be...
I have a doorstep!
I have a house
The sky is blue
It's not raining
The bees love my flowers
I love my flowers
I have peace. No-one is threatening me
A machine is washing my bedlinen as I sit here
The music of Bach is drifting through my home
I got a lovely message from a friend
I have friends
I can pay my bills
I have a kitchen full of good food
This is a paradise moment
You get the idea...I probably came up with 50 or so. I could easily come up with 100.
Of course then I began to compose a blog post and think about taking some photographs, but I did all that from a place of real relaxation and pure pleasure.
What works for you?
And don't you just love your freshly changed bed? Blessed indeed.
..and in spite of rain all day today!
in yesterday's warm sunshine the hedges, grass, path to the shore and two of the meadow areas got cut at last.
Congratulations to Grace who has completed the 95 mile West Highland Way here in Scotland. I am meeting her on Monday to hear all about it!
Angela and Swissrose who live in different parts of Switzerland met for coffee and sent me a happy photo. Both bloggers and commenters here, they met through this blog. Made me smile all day - thank you both! (Angela I couldn't find a link to your old blog but if you'd like to link us to it could you do so in the comments?)
Lynne has opened registration for her new course on Choosing the Poetic Life, with the enticing title Catch The Whispers. Read about it here.
The Scottish Sculpture Park at Colintraive on Argyll's Secret Coast is well worth a visit for it's stunning setting and intruiging sculptures.
More about the Sculpture Park tomorrow...
I can't quite get yesterday morning at the Rock Cafe out of my mind.
I was there about 8.15, between buses (it is right at the bus and ferry terminal) and had the unhealthiest breakfast I have had in a long time to fill the hour and a quarter till my next bus. At first I couldn't decide whether I liked it or not, but it was clean and cheerful. The man and woman working there greeted all the customers - quite a few people bought food to take away - by name.
'The usual?' they asked.
And 'How are you this morning?'
It is so entirely without pretension.
It could have been 1940, or 1960, or 2019
The menu may not have changed in all that time.
White bread fried, white bread toasted and buttered and a fried egg with a good strong cup of tea.
I loved it. I loved the Rock Cafe and the people in it and the railings and the shore and the lighthouse and the pier and the gulls and the early morning feeling of the town just starting its new day which would be just the same as yesterday and much the same as tomorrow probably and that would be fine and as it should be.
My stomach didn't love it and the bus journey to Colintraive along a winding and hilly single track road left me queasy!
That was fine too in it's way..
Was it nostalgia?
Or just that thing about liking what's real.
No flooding here thankfully. The rain is merely an inconvenience, stopping me from getting grass, meadows, paths and hedges cut - the garden gets wilder and wilder!
Listening to the lashing rain while still in bed I thought about how I could best spend this rainiy day (that was a typo but I think I quite like the word rainly.)
I had the luxury of a day at home, just thinking, and planning. With lots of coffee.
What's your favourite way to spend a rainly day at home?
Colours which don't usually have great appeal seem to be attracting me just now.
Not jolly exactly, but uplifting because it is true, is this quote from Michelle Obama's Becoming which I am just finishing reading.
Friendships between women as any woman will tell you, are built of a thousand small kindnesses....swapped back and forth and over again.
When did you last have a fun day out?
I mean a whole day with nothing else to do but enjoy yourself...
We started with coffee on the roof terrace of Harvey Nicols in Edinburgh for the view overlooking St Andrew's Square.
On the way back down through the store we fantasised about glamorous gowns
..and crazy shoes!
We visited three galleries - The Scottish Gallery, Open Eye and the National Portrait Gallery ( where we also had lunch) and took a refreshing late afternoon stroll through the Botanic Gardens.
and finished with an hour's people watching while sipping healthy cocktails!
Where will you go for your fun day out?
I will be back to Edinburgh before The Festival ends... (26 Aug).
..by the score, if not the hundreds.
My friend in the next village phoned to tell me the huge buddleia was covered in fluttering painted lady butterflies so I jumped on the bus - had to run for it - and went along to look and wonder.
I also wonder what happened to them all in the torrential thundery rain which fell later in the day. Do they hide under the flowers? Do great heavy raindrops damage them?
I've been slowly answering the comments on this post.
I ask too many questions don't I? :-)
According to Gretchen Rubin's Four Tendencies quiz I am a Questioner - no surprise there then!
In my book group once or twice a year instead of a book we have readings on a theme. We have had food, drink, gardens, childhood and many others, and our next one is 'optimism' as we are all feeling in need of some, what with the weather and the politics....
If you have any suggestions I'd be most grateful as would all the readers who also feel the need for some cheer, hope and lightness of heart.
Marianne Williamson (see yesterday's post) suggests that the kind of inner work many of us do along the lines of self developmen/awareness/care should not stop at ourselves but serve the wider community.
A new kind of politician? A new kindof economy? I am interested in what is new.
I wonder what you think of this interpretation of the digital age?
Have you come across any interesting new ideas of how the future might look?
And do you struggle to find a balance between your inner world and the outer world?
Is anyone else here listening to US presdidential candidate Marianne Williamson?
She makes a good case for political engagement at a time when it is very tempting to disengage...
..of Heather and all the other people who so generously donate blood in this country.
It's a cheerful place in the city centre, sparkling clean and friendly, with a notice as we enter telling us that three teaspoons of blood can save the life of a premature baby. Imagine.
I am under the required weight for donating blood (I can only suppose they think I need it more than they do!) but I do carry an organ donor card...
At last the black pots are filling out even if the sweet peas are a bit slow (but deliciously scented)
Petunia Apple Blossom, lime nicotiana, white ammi majus, lobelia and bacopa and sadly I cannot remember the name of the sweet pea which is a pity as I would like to grow it again!
Tender mina lobata is making a striking contrast with geranium Rozanne in the big nut brown pot.
warm and humid here with rain forecast for the whole day which makes me feel a bit lethargic. Good for the garden if not for me!
The name of the dahlias grown from seed. I am looking for a magenta one really, and will give the rest away - lovely though they are. It's fun going out to the greenhouse every morning to see what has opened.
Being in nature takes me out of myself like nothing else. After a disturbed night (with nightmares) I walked around the early morning garden and looked in on the greenhouse and in no time at all left the horrors behind. Though there are horrors to be found in nature too of course as evidenced by the comments yesterday - best plants eaten, black spot on the favourite rose, a dead bird found under the table and slugs and maggots are hard to love!
Off to water all the pots...
The garden is getting wilder (by which I mean more dishevelled!) but that very state, I like to think, is encouraging more wildlife.
Today I found in one of the meadow areas for the first time caterpillars of the very beautiful Cinnabar moth.
The Cinnabar moth is not a rarity, and ragwort, it's favoured food is plentiful around here, but I have only seen one once. Perhaps my decision to pay more attention to the bitds and insects in my garden this year is paying off.
Have you spotted anything new to you around where you live?
I've borrowed the lovely title from Alys Fowler's article here.
I have left another small corner of the garden unmown and am loving it.
JUST GET IT DONE week.
I'm a great fan of the baby steps approach and treating myself gently, but I am also a procrastinator (first class) and there are things which I ought to do....or I should say ought to have done days, weeks, even years ago! They nag at me, sometimes barely a whisper, sometims very loudly and still I put them off.
I loved my sister's story of cleaning every inch of her vacuum cleaner rather than sit down and write the almost overdue essay. Maybe it runs in the family I am thinking now as I write this blog post rather than make the tricky phone call. A fine excuse!
Time for a more radical approach I thought, when I browsed a book called Hell Week in Waterstones bookstore. I could hear Wim Hof's voice saying Give it all you've got! (I'd love to know if any of you tried his breathing method and found it useful. I do it every morning now and it has been instrumental in giving me the energy to do JGID week.) I also watched the Wimbledon finals and marvelled at the discipline and commitment of the players. Other voices chimed in. Face It Life Is Hard! When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going! You Can Do This! Feel The Fear And Look It In The Eye!
I'm half way through and it is hard. I am pushing myself. I have got a lot done (and feel as if I have spent hours navigating poorly designed websites and listening to 'Your call is very important to us, please hold....') I am determined. It's only a week after all. And the reward will be the freedom from that nagging voice and a day out without it's presence. (Edinburgh I think..)
A variant on my title - J*DI. jUST (insert the first letter of your preferred expletive!) DO IT.
Are you one of those people who just do it without the carrots and sticks that some of us need?
On a gentler note here is a piece about wild flowers in public spaces here in uk (though I think Lady Bird johnson campaigned for such approaches on US highways many decades ago).
..hard to say. But so present in all our lives.
Grief and grieving. Books have been written. I've read a few. Counselling is probably available. I've not done that.
I'm sharing here because this is something which is so present in my life. The pretty side of things I mostly show here is a way of balancing the grief and reminding myself that so much is still good and beautiful in my life. Death affects all of us and I think resilience and coping strategies could be talked about more. (The balance between privacy and public sharing is another kind of a balancing act that I think about a lot!)
For me now most ordinary days are fine. I have a lovely life: family, friends, home and garden, many interests and much to be grateful for. It's the extremes that floor me. The unexpected good news, the beautiful evening, a wonderful piece of music. When I got the good news about my eyes a little while ago I found myself standing in the middle of the garden next day with sudden tears just streaming down my face. When I got the news of a friend's serous illness I just wanted to lean against Barry. No words would be needed.
Things which helped? Reading about a bereaved child child who said 'Tears let the sad out'. The comment (from a reader here - (thank you Damsonlily) that you don't get over loss, but learn to live alongside it, and a neighbour told me that the spaces between the hardest times would get longer - she was right. The kindness of my blog friends has been a marvel.
I got very very curious about how my body could produce so many tears,,,,
It's no-one's favourite subject, and I mention it but rarely, but if you would like to share what you found helpful after a bereavement I, and many others, would be both touched and grateful.
Next post..JGID Week.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)