nomads, waifs and strays

There are probably as many reasons for wandering as there are wanderers.

pen-yr-allt wood

I have been wandering for about 18 months – no permanent base of my own, moving from friends to family and back again and in between taking respite in the solitude of looking after someone else’s house. Its not an easy journey and one not chosen at a conscious level. Its been challenging and rewarding. I now know there will always be a bed for me somewhere – someone will be happy for me to stay. I have let go of trying to remember where I was last week and where I might be next week, or even tomorrow! I find myself in the present moment far more often which can only be a good thing.

If I had known what the journey was going to entail I would not have placed one foot on this path and yet I am so glad I did. I have got into deeper relationships with my friends by being more involved in the day to day realities of their lives. I have explored new areas by house sitting in places previously unknown to me. I have a chance to look into others lives.

I have learnt to distance myself from the response of others as they imagine what it would be like to be without a home. And from the opinion of others who say its time I settled down now.

I suspect I will never know all that this journey has been about. I know, so far, it has been rich and revealing. Its been about grief and abundance and gratitude and vulnerability and about letting my soul dictate what is best for me.

As Tolkein said “not all who wander are lost”.

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stumbling

flat on my face again …. i roll over, look up to the sky and wonder what the hell is going on.

and the answer is that i have fallen over yet another set of limiting beliefs that until that moment i had no idea were there. the latest bunch is around work, earning money, making a difference, being out there in the world – a real tangle of beliefs that take me away from peace and being fully creative.

i get so tired of it all sometimes – the cycle of one step forward and two (or 8!) back as i uncover these layers of should’s and ought to’s which hide in the shadows just waiting to trip me up.  and i get up and do the work, shine some light into the darkness and am able to move on, clearer than before.

and in this brighter space i can acknowledge that things are changing – i am changing. how i have been in the world up until now doesn’t suit me anymore. and that the new edges of myself that i am finding have been worth the effort of going, seriously, off piste and that the journey is worth it. i have set myself adrift, refusing to land on safe and familiar looking shores and finally i have caught sight of new land which is where i am now headed – i will keep you posted!

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“One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time” Andre Gide

 

big blank canvas

i have been wanting to paint a BIG picture for a few years now and today was the day i got to it!

I have been taking 3 art classes a week this term with deb withey and the most important has been the drawing class.  during the first class, i found i had done 3 drawings with my (non dominant) left hand without realising – and i really liked the result!

last summer i had done quite a few exercises from betty edward’s classic book, drawing from the right side of the brain. one of the exercises that i really enjoyed, and was surprised at the results, was drawing a subject with my left hand while not looking at the paper.

during the following weeks, to loosen up at the start of each class i have continued to do several drawings in the same way – with my left hand and not looking at the paper. i then move on to doing left hand drawings looking at the page and maybe finally drawing with my right hand. the pictures i most enjoy are those done with my left hand and drawn while  not looking at the paper – it seems there is a freedom in that for me and the resulting pictures have a strength, character and energy in them.

so to get back to painting big. I taped together 3 long pieces of lining paper and pinned them to the wall

i had been given a beautiful stem of artichokes that would be my subject

i warmed up by drawing a couple of a3 sketches – using a chunky graphite pencil and a thick marker pen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then to the big blank canvas! i decided to use the black marker pen and did the whole drawing without looking at the paper and was really pleased with the result!

i decided to add colour with acrylics and a fabulous BIG brush my friend lisa had given me and i have been wanting to christen for some time!

i added the paint with the brush in my left hand while looking at the paper and am thrilled with the result!

drawing and painting big, with my left hand, gives me the space to really express myself – and standing while drawing adds to the sense of freedom and movement. i want to a do a series of paintings like this and am going to treat myself to some big size cartridge paper.

and now i get to eat the artichoke!

 

mermaids purse

I found my first mermaids purse on a beach on the Llyn penisula a couple of years ago. I was enthralled by the shape and wanted to create something in response to it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘purse’ is the casing that surrounds the fertilised eggs of sharks and skate and I have since found a few floating in the sea where I live in Pembrokeshire.

 

 

During a printing course this summer I took inspiration from the shape and made a stencil for screen printing which I was really pleased with. The stencil is on the left.

The resulting print makes me think of women dancing!

During this terms class I have taken my interpretation of the shape further and created a picture on cardboard from glue

and the first print I took from this was on lining paper. The cardboard was amazon packaging and the shaping of it creates a frame around the print which I really like. I really wasn’t sure about using glue to make a picture and I now I am a convert!

I then did a series of prints on folded out brown paper bags and wimdow envelopes (thanks to Inland Revenue!). I’m a real brown paper fan, something so pleasing about it and the bag even has a grease stain on it which I like!

Thanks to my friend Lisa who was keen to images of this work which motivated me to write this post!




Name calling

I sat on the edge of the cliff this morning and spotted a small black seabird. I felt frustrated not to know its name. I then reflected on how it would have been if I had known its name – I would have closed down to it, having put it in a box labeled “cormorant” or “shag”. The magic, mystery and uniqueness of that particular black bird diving into the sea would have eluded me.

I wonder what it is in me that wants to label things.  Part of what it might be is a short cut that takes me away from really witnessing the bird, the tree, the person, the cloud form.

And when I don’t allow myself to be fully present and witness the other, I am protecting myself from being moved and changed by the other.

And what would be the purpose of labeling myself?  Is it my hesitation to step fully into my strength?  As Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure …. we ask ourselves, who are we to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?”  And Meister Eckhart puts it this way “As long as I am this or that I am not all things.”

To be fully in my strength means to me being willing to compassionately witness myself.

To witness – to give evidence, to attest, to have seen. The root of witness is ‘wit’ which is to know.  For myself, being witnessed by another, to be seen for all that I am has happened enough times in my life for me to know how deeply affirming and precious an experience it is.  Along the same lines I love that part in the film ‘Avatar” where Neytiri says to Jake “I see you”. To be seen is a universal human need. And I want to learn how to more wholeheartedly do that for myself.

I have surprised myself with where this piece has gone and I hope to unpack some of the areas I have lighted on in further postings.

 

 

repose

This word – repose – came to me while I was writing my ‘morning pages’ yesterday.

Morning pages are a tool for releasing your creativity as advocated by Julia Cameron in her brilliant book ‘The Artists Way”. The idea is to, as soon after waking as possible, write 3 pages of something … anything, and its amazing what is waiting there to be written. My experience of it is that when I create the space for creativity to flow, and can get my judging self out of the way, then flow it will on to the blank pages. It feels like I drop down (or up?) a level into a stream of universal creativity, something not belonging to me and which I can access anytime.

I no longer write 3 pages every morning which I did for a while. I go through periods of starting the day with writing and I invariably feel better and more creative and energised as a result. I would highly recommend the book which is a comprehensive journey back to your creative self.

Getting back to repose. I was letting the words flow on the page and “silence and repose” came to me. Repose is not a word i would ordinarily use and I looked at the word written on the page and started reflecting on it and what it might mean.

To me it speaks of a deep resting. I wondered if the word had a similar root to reposition. Which led me on to think about the resting I have been doing since getting to Pembrokeshire last year.  When I allow myself to deeply rest, I find new edges of myself, or edges that I haven’t been in touch with for a long time. This happens, as in the repose I am repositioning myself, catching up with myself, bringing myself up to date with who I am and where I am now. And it takes a lot of repose and I am not fully there yet.

On checking it out, the two words – repose and reposition – have different roots. Repose stems from the latin for ‘pause’. And when I think about pausing I come back to the long tide and the idea of that deep primal creative inbreath.

bean thrower

Yesterday I went and had lunch with a friend who lives at Trevaccoon and helped prepare a side dish of broad beans. We shelled the beans then added them to fried onions, fennel bulb and cumin – really delicous! I was invited to pick more broad beans to bring home as they were not keeping up with the bumper crop of these delicious pods.

So, today I have decided to bake a broad bean quiche and thought I would share it (virtually) with you! I have steamed the beans and skinned them – they are such a bright green when you do this and taste even more wonderful.

I have looked up broad beans on wikipedia and found their latin name is Vicia Faba. I am a bit of an etymologist, finding real pleasure in the roots of words. I have discovered that an ancient Roman family name Fabia comes from this bean and also the term Fabian as in the Fabian Society which was the precursor of the Labour Party – not sure what to make of all of that!!

Also found that the rest of the world makes such exciting dishes with broad beans and I am not sure we do that much with them in this country. I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s cooking and you can find a delicious broad bean and radish salad recipe of his here.

And here is the quiche fresh out of the oven!

A lovely memory I have from living at Lower Down in Shropshire was of finding a big pile of broad beans on my door step one morning. My neighbour Fiona had a gorgeous vegetable patch and would always share her harvest with us and other neighbours.

I love eating baby broad beans and wouldn’t advise this as they contain alkaloids that in certain people can be potentially fatal, a condition called favism – even knowing this I still enjoy munching on a few raw baby broad beans!

And the bean thrower?  It seems in the Ubykh culture, that was centred in the Caucasus, beans were thrown on the ground and interpreted as a form of divination called favomancy – how cool is that!  The Ubykh culture, while patrilineal equally venerated women. I wonder if the bean throwers were men or women?