I watched a most interesting programme on BBC One called Blitz Spirit With Lucy Worsley in which she explores the lives of six ordinary real people who lived through it, using their own words. Cleverly put together, fascinating on many levels and sometimes harrowing to watch, it nevertheless left me aware that my personal experience (and I only speak for myself here) of this pandemic is a picnic in comparison.
Our restrictions and difficulties are at least because we are trying to help one another, not to kill one another.
I am humbled and not a little ashamed of feeling sorry for myself.
Worth watching. The link above is to YouTube.
..enchantment for your Christmas Eve..
I hope you can pour youself a lovely drink, snuggle down for half an hour on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and listen to The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse.
(also available from Penguin on A)udilble)
Brilliantly read by the author and illustrator Charlie Makesy, this is utterly enchanting.
My special nessage to anyone who is alone - please look after yourself beautifully!
Happy Christmas and I hope you will all be as cosy as this fox.
I know that many of you like to choose a word to inspire and encourage you through your year.
Susannah Conway's free guide to choosing your word is helpful, whether you are new to this game or have done it for many years as I have. I think I started it in 2011 with fitter, and I certainly did get fitter that year. I've had lighter, walk, afresh, gently and supposing. Last year's word enchantment helped me find enchantment everywhere - it's a matter of focus - if you look for it it will come. Sometimes a second of enchantment morphed into a Paradise Moment...wonderful. Your word should be your ally says Susannah Conway and she asks you to consider what you want more of in 2020, and what you want less of.
Of course Simply is my overriding word. That's a given for me. Nurture has been on my mind for a few days, and I considered glad, but I think I am going for strong. Partly because I resist the idea that seems to be prevalent in our culture that to get older is to inevtitably become weak and frail.
I want to explore all the ways in which I can be strong as I age!
Lots to consider. I like to look up my word in dictionaries, and look at synonyms and opposites. Looking at quotations containing the word can be useful in helping me decide.
I'll give myself a couple more days to ponder, but I am strongly of the opinion that strong will be my word.
Have you decided what your word for 2020 will be?
There are some links in this post to others on this topic.
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...
Regular readers will know I like motivational books (The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo - loved them both.)
You may also remember I don't like to call them self-help books because I fear that makes me sound too needy though I expect I am just as needy as the next person :-).
Anyway, I have used this one in the past, working on it with a friend and finding it really useful. The idea is to look back at your achievements and disappointments over the last year, see what you have learned and make plans and create goals for the year ahead.
It focusses the mind, and I'm enjoying answering the ten questions nd sharing my thoughts with the friend who is doing it too.
Do you like self-help - oops, I mean motivational books? And are there any you would recommend?
If you would like to live a more poetic life you might find motivation here with my friend Lynne in her new venture!
Original Leonardo da Vinci drawings!
I found it really thrilling to stand close to and examine carefully the real things!
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death there are currently 12 exhibitions here in UK each with I think 12 original drawings from the Queens's collection..
(See more here.)
In Scotland the only venue is at Kelvingrove Art Gallery in Glasgow which rang with the sound of humdreds of children enjoying themselves today (school holidays here). The gallery has always been free, and always been family friendly and (the replica of) Dippy the Diplodocus - see this post - is still drawing the crowds.
Newly installed in Glasgow's Kelvingrove Art Gallery 'Dippy' is a cast of a dinosaur which around 145 million years ago roamed North America (the original, which I expect some of you will have seen, is here).
It is hard to take your eyes off it, and no words come..
I am especially struck by the elegant tail.
I will be going back again.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,
don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty
of lives and whole towns destroyed or about
to be. We are not wise, and not very often
kind. And much can never be redeemed.
Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this
is its way of fighting back, that sometimes
something happens better than all the riches
or power in the world. It could be anything,
but very likely you notice it in the instant
when love begins. Anyway that's often the
case. Anyway, whatever it is, don't be aftaid
of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.
Isn't that a wonderful expression? Used by filmaker Margaret Tait (borrowed from Lorca). It was this expression and her own phrase stalking the image that led me in to take a look at the exhibition in GoMA today, but what I most enjoyed was experiencing the space blacked out - almost the only light coming from the screens on which two films were being projected. It is a beautiful, classically proprtioned space and I just loved being in it. I don't know if you can get something of the feeling from my photographs....
I am loving your comments about visiting art galleries.
I adore art galleries. I know some people find them intimidating, but for some reason they embolden me. I strike up conversations with strangers. I ask the staff what they like. I open my mind. If I don't like something I think about why. I look before I read anything and I turn down the offer of headphones - I don't want someone else's interpretation before I have made my own. I go at my own pace. I can't stand the blockbusters where you have to move along at the pace of the crowd. I'd rather see a couple of things well than just glance at everything so my first quick pass is to decide what I will go back and look closely at. In huge museums like the British Museum the postcard rack can help narrow down the options.,,.
..with your creative self.
I'm reviving a habit I picked up many years ago from Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and that is the Artist's Date. Essentially time out, once a week,on your own, doing things that spark joy.
It says a lot about my current habits that I am having to think quite hard about what they might be, and I have to be careful not to let it become just another thing on my to-do list! Not that I don't have fun (this blog is fun) but I need and like something different now and then. It's purpose is to delight and enchant you'says Cameron and to take you out of your comfort zone.
(Gulp. I can get very fond of my comfort zone., especially in winter.)
If you Google Artist's Date and/or Julia Cameron, check out YouTube, or click on See Inside on the book on Amazon you will get lots more detail if this concept is new to you.
This will be part of my Winter Plan, and I'll be checking in once a week with my friend M.
Will you join us? We are going for the widest possible interpretation of Artist and of Date by the way...
One man's junk...becomes two womens' treasure!
I know you will enjoy a browse through the website of my friend Lucy and her daughter Cath.
(The Conservation Group made £464 at the Pound Sale.)
..about the state of the world. (Though it's good to have your emergency kit somewhere you can find it if you need it!)
Don't Panic is the title of an hour long video by the late Hans Rosling (a hero of mine). It is so worth watching and will change your world view forever. If you don't have an hour and have not seen it yet this 4 minute one should not be missed.
There is more - all fascinati,ng and a new book called Factfulness.
I came across coach Cheryl Richardson and listened to some videos..
Here are some of the things she said which 'spoke to my condition'
she talks of learning to sit in limbo, to wait, to allow what's next to come to us.
Of dismantling our lives and releasing the things which no longer feed us.
If we are clear that what we want is to feel alive.. that we want more aliveness...
Of asking ourselves 'What calls to me energetically and says do more of this?
See more here.
Does it resonate with you?
We visited the Ardfern studio of artist Hannah Tofts whose warm welcome and wonderful energy inspired us. Do browse around her website - she teaches, writes books, gardens, cooks, campaigns against plastics in our seas (she has a seven year collection of plastics from beach cleans!) and paints. A colourful antidote to this winter weather..
..phtography from Washington DC (for you Mary!)
A silent four minute meditation.
Thank you Karen.
..the story of the Shackleton Antarctic expedition. In this Royal Geographical Society exhibition at The National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh - it is so well told and so worth seeing.
A novel way to guide you to the right place
And a welcoming sign.
In many ways it is an old fashioned exhibition - photographs and words, some original film and artifacts - but such stunning photographs and such moving words..
Endurance was the word.
An artist seeking a simpler life - (but not too simple!)