Another mesmerising skyscape last night and a quote from Presence by voice coach Patsy Rodenburg -
You are not a brain on a stick, Your presence is felt through your body, breath, voice, words, mind, heart and spirit.
More BBC Four Japan Series programmes available on YouTube that is -
The Art of Japanese Life Nature
The Art of Japanese Life Cities
Handmade in Japan The Kimono
Handmade in Japan Mangei Pottery
Hokusai: Old Man Crazy To Paint
There are more but those are my favourites.
Thank you to Linda who found the quotation I liked so much from Jay Griffith's book Wild: An Elemental Journey -
We were not made for pavements and escalators but for thunder and mud.
More dramatic skies here too..
And more rain.
Here is a link to my favourite programme so far in the wonderful BBC Four Japan series.
Watch the artist about 30 minutes in - so exciting! And towards the end the typical apartments of young people - 'the real Japan is anything but zen' says presenter James Fox - make you understand more about Marie Kondo. What resonates with me particularly is architect Fujimori's statement that 'Humans need to be close to natural elements, like earth, water, plants.'
I wonder if any of you know who wrote the poem that includes these words We were not meant for escalators....we were meant for thunder...
I have googled it and searched my collection of Mary Oliver, but to no avail and I would love to find it again....
I kept pausing the programme last night to photograph the dramatic sky!
A group of us spent some time in Coronation Wood this morning, just pulling out ash and sycamore saplings, strimming the paths and trimming the boundary hedge.
It's a peaceful place to be. I missed photographing it at it's prettiest wild flower and bluebell time this year, but shades of green are tranquil and the seat under the spreading oak tree and the view out of the wood and up the Glen are lovely.
The village hotel, closed for eight years, is reopening next week. Can't wait to try it. It will be so good to have somewhere I can walk to and take visitors to.
Watch this space..
(For more about the Coronation Wood project click on the heading under the banner photograph.)
Impression Rosa Glauca by Waldapfel
I was about to delete this out of focus shot when I thought I quite liked it and it reminded me of Impression Sunrise by Monet
Atul Gawande in his clear-sighted and compassionate book Being Mortal describes courage as 'finding the strength to face reality',
Not just facing reality but accepting and even welcoming it, is the theme of Leo Babauta's free 44 Day Training Turning Uncertainty and Discomfort Into Mindful Openness which I have been dipping in and out of. The ideas are pretty challenging and I will start over with it more than once probably.
Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant have written Option B - Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy. Although from a very different culture to mine I found a lot to like in this book. There is also a website here.
On one of my favourite radio programmes Private Passions, I heard voice coach Patsy Rodenburg talking about being present. I was so impressed by her clarity and conviction that you can learn to use your positive energy, that I have ordered her book Presence and am looking forward to that arriving any day now...
I often start the day by reading the Daily Affirmation on Susan Jeffers site. Some I like better than others of course but for me it is a better start to my day than the news!
Are there books and websites which have inspired and motivated you?
Some of the ideas in Christina Rasmussen's book Second Firsts about life after loss have been helpful to me. Under what she calls Life Re-entry she suggests you try to 'plug in' to the wider world 'even if only five per cent'.
I think perhaps last year I was doing that intuitively. Supported by wonderful family and friends (including the friends I have made here on this blog) I joined in many lovely events, shared holidays and get-togethers.
A phrase used by 'Widower of the Parish' in his Guardian newspaper column about living 'the same life but sadder' stayed with me though, so recently my efforts at plugging in have taken a different twist...
Perhaps you have also suffered a loss, are in a bit of a rut, or are just feeling in need of a boost? I can recommend trying making a few small changes from the categories in Rasmussen's list -
Hair. I changed my hairstyle, just a bit.
Clothes. I started wearing the clothes less worn instead of choosing the same things from the wardrobe all the time, and bought a new dress and wore it!
Travel. I am making some tentative plans..
Hobbies. I am trying to take a real interest in cooking.
People. I am reaching out more.
Books. I am asking friends for recommendations.
Tomorrow - other authors and websites I've found helpful including Leo Babauta, Atul Gawande, Sheryl Sandberg and Patsy Rosenberg.
Architect Frank Gehry's advice to 'treat the commercial world as a museum' is something I play with at times.
It's fun to look at the world this way. I can imagine Harvey Nichols as a 21C extension to the Pitt Rivers and myself as a social anthropologist....
It's stopped raining and my favourite flowers have come out.
I set out last week to move out of my comfort zone and 'refill the well' by doing and looking at some things which were a bit different from my usual.
What a week.
I attended the opening of the Andy Warhol Exhibition in the newly restored Burgh Hall in Dunoon, spent a day in Edinburgh looking at three exhibitions and eating out, I met up with friends, went with my sister to a party at Glasgow School of Art and was shown round some of the Degree Show by students, and celebrated a friend's work being selected for the annual Paisley Art Institute exhibition with a visit there.
Wine and canapes, breakfast out, oh the high life!
l loved it all and am now glad to be home.
It has rained for about ten days and I do want to ground myself by gardening (which was my original plan for June).
What do you do to fill the well? And is it fun?
Not just glamour and bling! I found several good reads in Vogue including one about a British family who have taken in a refugee written by the woman of the family, and the refugee, a feature by an Italian citizen living in Britain about her view of Brexit, and one by Arundhati Roy on political activism.....
Last weekend In my search for something different I had a lunch of haggis in filo pastry with a whisky sauce, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and strawberries, a small glass of wine and a coffee, served on fine china by charming staff, surrounded by amazing flowers (not all real but the lilies were) and lit by chandeliers! All for £19.50. I just love the over-the-top grandeur of The Dome.
Well, once a year :-)
Then a quick tour of Harvey Nichols shoe department..
These shoes made me think of Cruella de Ville. £650.
See more amazing shoes at unbelievable prices here.
Have you done anything just for fun lately?
Can you think of something fun for this weekend?
In my few hours in Edinburgh I also went to The Scottish Gallery where two very different shows interested me.
The watercolours of Hugh Buchanan are accomplished and very beautiful if slightly austere and academic - an approach which however suits the subject of Georgian Edinburgh. I loved these and if I had a fine Georgian room to hang one in would have gladly spent the £6250 on the one of the chair in the light from the elaborately curtained window!
You can view them here
Entirely different but also wonderfully skilled was the collection of miniature pots by Yuta Segawa. Some are less than an inch tall and they were all hand thrown on a wheel. I enjoyed talking to the friendly young woman who was working there She has bought some - they cost, amazingly, £20 and £25 pounds each. They are all different and very very well made. You can see the artist making them in this video and you can buy them online from his website.
I am fascinated lately by artists who do photo-realistic work.
I got to Edinburgh in time to hear Rachel Ross's talk about her acrylic paintings. (See also yesterday's post).
Charming and friendly, she talked mainly about how she does them, but the why was about her fondness for old objects from the past and wanting to give them some kind of status and presence. I felt it would be rude to ask if excellent photographs might do the same thing. Her skill is superb, and the paintings are truly lovely objects, but not really my thing (which on this occasion is why I went to see the exhibition - to look beyond my usual choices).
The exhibition is at the Open Eye Gallery and you can see more images of Rachel's exquisite work here.
Every now and then I feel the need to see something different and I've just had in intensive input of things I don't usually do or see, chosen because they were different....it does give me a lift. Does this work for you too?
Three exhibitions in Edinburgh, a meal in grand surroundings, a brief look at high fashion and a copy of Vogue to read on the bus home.
Photo-realistic paintings by Rachel Ross selling well for £2000, rather academic very beautiful watercolours of Georgian Edinburgh by Hugh Buchanan (£6000). I enjoyed the fantasy worlds of The Dome and Harvey Nichols. Chandeliers and flowers and good food for a very reasonable price, (£19.50) and Cruella de Ville shoes for a very unreasonable price (£650) Some amazing and exquisite miniature pots were £20 and £25...I am mentioning the prices of everything because it fascinates me what we value things at, and how we choose to spend our money!
The Vogue magazine was half price at £2.
More thoughts tomorrow when I have absorbed all the stimuli..
Pretty! The poppies were getting soaked and battered in the garden so I brought them in and invited a friend for tea
PS The story of the teaset is in this post.
Marie Kondo believes that tidying is a good way to get to know yourself.
This is her reasoning...
'After all, our possessions very accurately relate the history of the decisions we have made in life. Tidying is a way of taking stock that shows us what we really like.'
I will keep Kondoing. Although I don't know where I'm heading I have a feeling that I am at least going in the right direction...
I enjoyed this insightful piece by the translator of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying - she explains how the phrase Spark Joy came about!
...still. It is taking a lot longer than the six months she suggests.
Marie Kondo encourages you to envisage life after Kondoing, but it's the vision of life after Barry that eludes me really.
But every now and then, like this morning early, I move about the house doing some ordinary thing and finding almost everything in its place and working - there's a pleasure, a fluidity, a calm, a 'this is how it's meant to be' feeling. A sense that my house and garden environment is supporting me rather than that I work to maintain it.
The feeling is fleeting, but it sends me back to her book to help me keep going and to think about and refine the way I see my future..
When it is too wet to garden, as it is today, a few leaves and flowers around the place give me my green 'fix'.
I am looking into possibilities here...
I could visit lavender fields closer to home than Grasse - there was one not an hour from home - the most northerly in UK at Millhouse (no longer there I fear. It was a bit of a long shot!) There are some lovely ones in Yorkshire, Suffolk or Norfolk.
But I am greedy for the whole experience - the sunshine, the warmth. the acres of colour. Jasmine and orange blossom. Roses. The whole perfumerie thing.
I know Grasse will have changed since I was there as a pupil on a school trip when the whole ambience made such a deep and lasting impression on me.
It will surely be busier, if not crowded.
Have any of you been to visit lavender fields?
Do you have any tips?
I am loving reading about your wish lists...
From looking back to looking forward.
I've been thinking of a wish list...
I'd like to see fields of lavender growing, perhaps in Grasse.
I'd like to see Vermeer's paintings.
And Monet's Waterlilies in L'Orangerie in Paris.
I'd love to visit Japan.
What's on your wish list?
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)