shamanic Healing – an experience – part two

So, on the Sunday of my booked shamanic healing experience, I woke up in some state of trepidation. I drew the curtains to find a pile of snow. Not what I’d been expecting. I wondered if there’d be more and if this was a sign I shouldn’t be going. I quickly dismissed this as fear and decided: any more later that day (appointment wasn’t until 3 pm) and I’d cancel (narrow, country roads+me+snow=possible disaster) but if it just stayed as it was, or melted any, I’d go. An hour before I needed to. To be on the safe (slooooooooow) side.

At 2:15pm I was on the (very clear) road.

Natasha, when she opened the door, had quick, searching eyes and a slightly nervy manner. Her dog was bouncy and eager and followed us to her healing space. Coat off, bag down, phone silenced, dog removed. We sat, face to face, for what I supposed would be my pre-treatment amble through ailments and such. The easiest way to share this is via a transcript of what took place:

Natasha: so, how did you find your journey here? I emailed you earlier to say you didn’t have to come if you didn’t want to drive in the snow. We could have rearranged.

Me: Oh! I didn’t receive that! How odd…

Natasha: Mmmmmmm. Ok, so, you heard about shamanism during meditation, is that right?

Me: yes. I feel that there may be something stuck which needs to go and now is the time for it.

Natasha: Shamanic healing is powerful. I can really help with deep rooted issues, yes. You said you were a Reiki healer?

Me: Yes. I qualified as a Master about a year ago. I’m just settling with that at present. I’ve been teaching lots of Yoga though! It tumbles in! Lovely to be able to share healing that way.

Natasha: (by now peering incredibly closely at me and ‘scanning’ me – I could feel it) yes, Yoga is important for you isn’t it? If we weren’t moving house I’d come along to a class! I bet you’re good….

My head felt very heavy and I could sense movement behind and around me, though I didn’t find it alarming in any way. Natasha had a very bright light at her throat. I kept looking about me for the source of it, for what was being shone at her, or reflecting off something in the room, but there was no source of it but her.

Me: Where are you moving to?

Natasha: we have family down south. Since the baby was born I miss being near them.

Me: Yes, babies change a lot don’t they? I live half an hour from my new nephew and often feel that’s not close enough! How long have you been a Shaman?

Natasha: forever! I inherited it from my Dad. He’s not so into it. He’s kind of hidden it from the world. It can make people uncomfortable. I just knew it was what I had to do. And here I am. Do you want some water?

Me: Lovely, thanks. (Water was cold, clear, crisp). Shall I get in the chair then?!

Natasha: (laughing) yes, if you’d like to. Are you warm enough? Just sit back and relax. You can ask me anything you like during the treatment. If I’m journeying though, or in a trance, don’t speak. If you go to sleep, that’s fine. Just do what you feel.

Me: (wondering how I’d tell if she was in a trance) ok

Natasha closed her eyes, so I did too. I’ve had numerous treatments and healings over the last few years so kind of expected I’d drift off to sleep and wake feeling something had happened and that I was ‘better’ and that we’d share our versions of events and I’d go on my merry way. She started to breathe deeply and drum on a tambour. Then she started to sing. Something sweet and unusual and in a language I don’t know. I opened one eye. She stopped singing and waved her hands over my body. She held a smudge stick (a bundle of dried sage) which she burned and wafted over me, like incense. So far, so normal. To me. I closed my eye.

Natasha: do you have a trauma in your solar plexus region?

Me: not that I can think of

Natasha: no old trauma which may be held here, physically?

Me: No. None. Um…….is this about an assault I experienced?

Natasha: No. It’s from childhood. To do with childhood?

Me: No. Nothing but good things happened in my childhood. Unless…..is it to do with before I was born?

Natasha: Yes. It’s to do with a past life. It’s to do with something in childhood in a past life. It troubles you now. You have a really strong guide with you…..I can’t quite make him out…..

Me: Him?

Natasha: Yes, definitely male….

Me: Yes, I feel him around a lot. When you say you can’t….do you mean….? He’s not exactly malevolent, but he’ssometimes….kind of grumpy?!

Natasha: Yes! He’s….oh!….he’s not a guide….I don’t think…. no, don’t worry……OH MY GOD! (jumps back and looks scared)

Me: (really rather frightened and can feel a rushing of energy all around me) He’s not happy is he?

Natasha: No, it’s ok….he’s settling….he doesn’t want me too close, Jo, he doesn’t want me to take him away. (Pauses). I’m getting a brotherly feel from him……

Me: (starting to cry now) yes, I know….

Natasha: (hand on my arm) it’s time for him to go and he’s scared, he doesn’t want to leave you. You’ve been together eons and eons….he’s tired…..you’re tired…..you made a decision to stay together but it’s not working anymore….he can’t see that he needs to go because he doesn’t want to let you down…..he’s your…..he’s your…..

Me: (sobbing) ….he’s my twin.

Natasha: (also sobbing) ….he’s your twin

I think it’s important to insert some extra info at this point. My mum had a child before me, a boy, who died at full term for no apparent reason. ‘These things happen’ she was told. As a child, I always knew he’d come before me and I always, therefore, believed this male energy I sensed around me was to do with this knowledge, was a kind of imprint left on me from this other brother who hadn’t quite made it. There were a few odd moments, though, in childhood, where I would make statements which perturbed my parents somewhat. For example, at dinner one Sunday I blurted out, “wait! he’s not here yet…..”, convinced there was someone missing from the table and we were being rude in starting without him. In my teens I had a vivid dream that I was a boy. I started out a girl, dreamt I was brushing my hair and looking in my parents’ mirror, when subtly and slowly, my face altered and I became a boy in the reflection. My exact replica, but male. The dream switched and I was a boy in the bath. I looked down and started masturbating. I awoke, a bit confused, but knew what I’d felt was real, somehow. This was confirmed when I freaked my best, male, friend out as I described my dream down to the sensations I’d experienced in that male body. I asked my mum, again, some time in my teens, if, in fact, I was a twin and they had just never been brave enough to tell me that their first son died with me or because of me. She was confused, quite rightly, but assured me, no, he had been a single baby, as had I when I was born a few years later. In my first Reiki healing session, the healer told me there was ‘a lot of male energy around’ and that I had unresolved past life issues. I experienced the moment of my conception via a Reiki healing session, too, and my first feeling, the very instant I was created, was guilt. My dear friend, M, on first being attuned to Reiki, gave me some healing and commented ‘there is a deep, deep sense of sadness in your heart.’ I avoid women, tend to have male friends. My relationships are short lived. One, which carried me through my twenties in a rush of obsession and sex, but no real commitment on either side, had received a damning ‘you’re not compatible’ judgement from a male voice in my ear the last time we’d slept together. Literally. I had a voice in my ear tell me not to go on with this man. A jealous voice. What Natasha was saying, then, rang loud and clear and true, deep down in the pit of my soul. These things, thoughts, feelings, dreams, sensations which had been a part of me all my life, which sounded (sound!) mad to the open air, crazy when shared with others, were true. I just knew it. Like you know the wind is blowing and the rain is wet. It was innate.

Me: tell him it’s time to go. I’ve held him back enough. It’s ok. He can go.

Natasha began to blow and wave her smudge stick around. She sat with her eyes closed, muttering next to me as I relaxed back in the chair and closed my eyes, too. It all made sense. It made no sense at all, and yet it all made sense. I felt exhausted and elated and peaceful all at once.

Natasha: he wants me to tell you he loves you very much. He couldn’t incarnate. He simply couldn’t incarnate. Something went wrong, that’s all. He’s always been with you and he loves you. He’s kissing your head.

Me: (inside my head) just manifest somewhere else. I’ll see you when I get there. I love you .

The room was freezing at this point. Natasha offered me more water and I asked to use the loo. My legs were shaky and I could barely stand I felt so weak. I was giddy and giggly and couldn’t stop laughing. I felt elated and on a high.

Natasha: steady! take it steady. You need to let this settle. Are you ok? That was big! I didn’t expect that today!

Me: no…..I kind of thought you’d tell me some stuff about work!

Natasha: when you first came in I could see this, what I thought was, Guide, behind you and I thought then, he’s a bit close. He kept trying to hide I think. He was so merged with your energy! He really didn’t want me to see. He came on a bit strong when I recognised him for what he was…..but you’re quite right, he wasn’t bad in any way, he just couldn’t leave you.

Me: (post toilet, back on the chair) I feel so high! I’m all giggly! There are lots of people watching! I can feel them.

Natasha: Yes. They’re all egging you on! there’s still more to do. When a part of you has been in trauma, and your soul definitely has been, there’s a piece missing. It takes itself away to avoid the hurt, which is good, but sometimes it gets stuck, like now. We need to retrieve it and put it back.

Me: (laughing) will it hurt?

Natasha: No! Just relax. I need to call in my spirit teacher.

Now, this was where the experience felt a lot more like what I’m used to, healing sessions wise. I drifted off into a partial sleep and felt the energies around me start to swirl and pull. I sensed Guides and Sprit all around me (I was freeeeeeeeeezing at this point, despite the heating and blankets) and, despite my closed eyes and relaxed state (or maybe because of them!) I could ‘see’ very clearly, an old woman moving around the chair, waving what looked like grey silks, but on closer inspection was smoke and ribbons and ribbons of it at that. My head was tight (my way of knowing I’m ‘connecting’) and I felt calm and relaxed. There was a bit of a rush, nothing dramatic, and I saw a huge stag, and then Natasha was drumming a bit more and waving a feather. I came to and hugged her. When I asked if she has an old Native American Indian woman as her guide she smiled and said yes, that was her spirit teacher, and he/she manifested several ways, but was always a Native American.

Me: I don’t know how to say thank you for this. I’ve brought £xxxxxxx to pay you, but I think I need to double it…..

Natasha: give what you can. That’s absolutely fine. How do you feel? You need grounding I think!

Me: I’m so light! I feel massive, too! My energy field is huge it’s like I’m brand new!

Natasha: you are. I’ve never done that before! That part of your soul has never been incarnated before! There was a pact, I think, pre birth, with your brother. He couldn’t reach you in time, or something went wrong……he got stuck.  It was all about love, though. He loved you so much. It was huge.

She started rubbing my arms and legs, trying to ground me.

Me: hang on….I know what I need to do: tree! (I hopped up on one leg and stood in tree pose for a bit)

Natasha: thank you for coming to me. Thank you for sharing this experience with me. It was very humbling. You followed your guidance and not many do that. You absolutely needed to do it. It was an honour to help you. I saw him as…..

Me: dark?

Natasha: (smiling lots) yes! dark, very curly hair. Italian!

I was conceived in Italy. The man I mentioned before, the one I was in love with my whole young adult life was dark with very curly hair. Little things, but all part of the stitching of it.

Natasha: This crystal is for you. when I do a soul retrieval, I hold it, so any loose strings, any dust from the retrieval can collect on it. It’s for you. Take it away and in moments when you forget, hold it and it will remind you. You have a beautiful soul. You are a Natural healer.

We hugged. I paid her. I told her about Archangel Zadkiel being a  strong presence for me lately. She said she’d seen an Angel in the soul separation, that she thought it had been Archangel Michael, with his sword, who had separated us. We talked some more about this and that, not wanting it to end, but knowing it had. She warned me the next thirty days could be tricky. That I might be a bit ‘up and down’ but that being gentle was what I needed. To treat myself like a baby. Because I was! Part of me was brand new and I needed to teach it how to go steady on the Earth.

I drove home.

And now…..? Well, it’s the end of week one for this new bit of soul and, so far, so good. There is a strange background sensation of something being gone. An emptiness of sorts, but not in a bad way. I am alone, but not quite lonely. I have this inner sense of excitement and hope which wasn’t there before. I am contented in a way I’ve never experienced. Life still throws curve balls: a bill needs paying, work needs attending to, a friend is being a pain in the backside…..yet none of it really matters. We say it a lot, don’t we, as a mantra, but I feel it now. It’s not just words.

And my brother?

Today I wrote to him.

And you’re reading what I wrote.

In love, in light, Amen.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

 

 

 

shamanic Healing – an experience – part one

I was meditating about a year ago, asking questions about the fear I was experiencing, the self doubt which plagued me, that sort of thing. I had been struggling with the notion of ‘self’. Again. My identity had, for years it seemed, been a kind of paper thin background wash, rather than the solid, actual present moment me I craved it to be. One way this presented itself was to embellish my days with a kind of raw fear of my femininity. I felt ugly and masculine, clumsy and awkward. Masculinity is, of course, a beautiful thing, not in itself a negative. If that’s how you want to be perceived. But when you want to be its exact opposite, it’s a confusing state to be in to say the least! It made me query my sexuality, whether I was maybe trapped in the wrong body (turns out this was closer….) and look at (through worried, anxious specs of doom) what femininity really was. Turns out, for me, it was slim, lithe blonde women who presented as feminine du jour. Whereas my curvy, darker, slightly hirsute frame was definitely not.

Those feelings were terrifying and debilitating and cast long shadows. At the worst moments I felt I was truly losing my mind. But, still there, hidden away was, well, me. The real me, small and feisty, actually very feminine indeed and desperate to push up and out. She brought, if not complete balance, at least a sense that balance was possible. So I kept moving forward, kept seeking and searching and gradually, if not entirely, the fear subsided some and I got back to the me I had been before this odd few years of crippling self doubt had taken a hold and interrupted what I’d been doing before. Painting, drinking, seeing mates, shopping, that kind of thing. Yet still these moments of delusion, of terror, of confusion could creep up unannounced and ruin days and days.

Meditating, Yoga and Reiki helped. The latter, actually, I now suspect, was largely responsible for triggering this phase in the first place. ‘Reiki shakes out all that isn’t love in order that it may be resolved’. So said my teacher when I first became attuned. It’s only now, some five years and a whole lot of new experience later, that this makes sense in its absolute. Something at the heart of me, buried deep, needed to come up and out and be resolved. So, during a week of particular low ebb, fighting these demons and worrying I may never be rid of them, I turned to Reiki and meditated using the symbols I had been taught, hoping this might be the day I’d find answers, achieve resolution. In many ways it was. I had a sense, rather than a thought, that Shamanism would help. It was like a very quiet whisper on the edge of my consciousness, easy to ignore, but it had presented itself nevertheless.

I looked up Shamanism and what it entailed. I won’t pretend to know enough to describe its history, benefits or science here, but suffice it to say, what I read seemed reasonable enough, based on my own ideals and experiences via Reiki healing: Shamans can commune with a person’s Spirit Guides, using their own Guides’ wisdom and advice to conclude the best path of healing for the individual. They are able to see back through past lives for a possible unresolved Karmic issues and can retrieve parts of a person’s soul if, for some reason, the individual hasn’t incarnated fully due to trauma, or, part of the soul fled during traumatic experience in their current life.

So far, so interesting. I put the whole thing to bed, though, as often we do on these healing paths, and continued on my way. Every now and then, I’d recall the idea that a Shaman would help me, do a bit of research and Google the possibility of Shamans in my local area (turns out, not many!) but never really had ‘the call’ to go any further until I was planning my New Year celebrations in December. I had been invited to attend Hogmanay in Scotland with a group of friends I love dearly, but who, when all is said and done, are party animals of the highest order. Back before ‘the femininity fear’ set in I could also proudly call myself such (remember the list of stuff I was doing?) but now, post Reiki Master qualification, post Yoga teacher training and post digging myself out of a dark emotional hole with peace and quiet and steadiness, partying hard is lower on my ‘to do’ list than it was before. So, with only a smidge of regret, I declined to attend the festivities and opted for my first ever solo soujourn into New Years Eve celebration. Massages, Reflexology, manicures and hot baths all seemed the best way forward and I set about trying to book some.

Nothing doing! No one, not a one, had an appointment free. In desperation I booked myself into a yoga class for the morning of New Year’s Eve (which was beautiful, if not quite as horizontal as the other things I’d had in mind) but found myself with an entire day and evening blank of activity. It looked like I might be watching TV and going to bed depressed. And then I had an idea. Shamanic healing! Of course! I could find a Shaman, drive however long it took me (roads would be empty-ish) and get me some healing as per my guidance. Nice way to end the year and bring in the new one.

And then my brother rang having a crisis and I ended up spending the evening with him, new nephew and my sister in law. Lovely evening. No shamans. But, as I sat in bed, later that night, watching the fireworks from my bedroom window as the rest of the world communed and danced and moved about, I had a brief look online and found a Shaman. Half an hour from me. What are the chances?! She looked beautiful and strange. I liked her. I emailed her and we booked an appointment. Something very deep down, further than the pit of my stomach fleetingly clenched with fear. Then a voice in my head very firmly told me to go fight that fear, whatever happened. I was excited and hopeful and intrigued. Perhaps, I thought, in the couple of weeks prior to our appointment, she would help me make those career decisions which had been confusing me of late? Maybe she would help me find true love? Could this be the moment I discovered I was meant to live in Cornwall and wear kaftans? Own a horse?

Daydreaming the possibilities, as it turned out, was less fantastical and awe inspiring than the real deal, when it finally took place.

Freedom

The sky is purpling into a new day, sun not quite yet up above the chimney stacks and tiles. The air through the fan heater smells faintly of burning fluff and only half the windscreen is cleared. Alan clears his throat impatiently and ducks to see below the line of frost emigrating steadily, but not quickly enough, up the glass.

He has to be there before sun up or else there’s little point in doing this in secret. Once people start to emerge to scrape the cars and take in the frosty towered milk bottles and check the cat’s ok, the magic element is lost. The cloak and dagger drops, the gig is up.

The main roads aren’t too bad and Alan makes good progress up past the park and by the shopping centre. Slush from the snow is greying in the gutters and, not for the first time, he curses this need in him, this desire to put himself outside. His finger tips are numb with cold, his nose drips forlornly into his roll neck sweater and body aches with tensing against the cold.

Up ahead he spots the Leylandii looming over the semis. Typical. The car windscreen is just about clear and the heater is working more freely. And now he has to stop and get out. Oh well, he’s here now. He parks by the Transit outside number 15, hopeful his van will merge with its shadow of workmanly business appropriate to the street and its varying degrees of extension, repair and revamp, look like part of a mini fleet and not draw unwanted attention or, worse, recognition on future attempts.

He pulls down his hat, rolls it over his face until the eye hole is in place and zips his parker up all the way, up over his chin. His breath makes condensation against the zip. What with this and his still wet nose he’s starting to feel like a walking swamp thing. His boots protest faintly where there are still patches of snow, and in the deeper frost, but other than this, the street is silent. He spots one or two lights blinking on around him and swears, speeding up towards the Leylandii. Markers on his internal treasure map.

Beneath them, the only detached house on the street is still in darkness, as he knew it would be. The gate doesn’t squeak, as he’d also already known. The gravel drive does crunch. Not a lot he can do about that. Alan’s heart is thumping under his anorak and his hands have started to prick with sweat. He thinks, ‘I need the loo,’ as he crouches down by the garage window. This, he knows, is the one place which might be occupied, from previous observation, and he holds his breath. He dares himself to peer through the cobwebbed single glazed window. Inside, the potters wheel sits still and rejected, under a blanket made for a child. The buckets sit idle and the workbench is abandoned.

Empty. Alan smiles underneath the wool of his balaclarva and reaches into his back pack for the screwdriver and canvass.

————————————————————————-

 

At precisely 7:15 Deborah shuffles outside to retrieve the paper and milk from next to the garage. If she weren’t going so slowly in the oversized wellies, sliding on the ice so as not to slip deeper, she’d have missed it. Curled up in the window frame (how on earth had it got there?) was an A4 sized canvass. On which was printed a beautiful photograph of a submarine at dawn, down south somewhere, an estuary perhaps. It moved her. On the back was scrawled a note: ‘this is free art Friday. If you like what you see, go to http://www.freeartfridays.com for more of the same. I hope you have a wonderful day and I chose the right recipient for my work.’

 

Gluttony

As soon as the door opened, I knew he was drunk. No one else would notice, I don’t think, but when you spend so much time in someone’s company over the years, even if they’re a master of disguising it, the signs are obvious to you. He steadied himself on the wall and started some song and dance about ‘not stopping all morning’. What? I wondered, drinking? He wouldn’t make eye contact with me and brushed my hugs and ‘Merry Christmas’ aside to reach behind me to my mum. He helped her up the step but then forgot to take her coat. For a man of impeccable manners, this rang an alarm in my head. He stank of expensive aftershave and cigarette smoke. And extra strong mints.

The front room was cold and smelled faintly of something I couldn’t quite call to mind. It wasn’t exactly welcoming. Dad was fussing with his coat and scarf, so I took them and ran upstairs to lay them on the bed. When I returned, Stephen was still utilising the wall for support and now, to my horror, slightly slurring his speech. I looked at Mum and Dad’s faces. No recognition that anything was out of the ordinary, thank God. I ventured to the kitchen to check on progress.

The oven was on full blast and, inside, the turkey looked uncomfortable. Not nearly as uncomfortable as me when I realised the veges were still sitting in their bald pans, waiting to be tended. Stephen appeared at my side, sweating slightly. “Just getting your folks settled pet,” he shambled, miss-kissing my face as he reached for the beers and wine bottle on the side. “What do you think Mr Davies will want? Too soon for a whiskey probably, isn’t it?” He chuckled, happy in his role as bar tender. I took a deep breath. “Dad’s not drinking today, Stephen. What with mum’s ankle and all…..”

The rage that spread across his face as he poured the wine was almost as purple as its tanins. “What the fuck do you mean? He’s not drinking, drinking? So that’s you on your….nevermind….and your mum on antibiotics and now he’s not…..I give up! Do you know what?” he drew closer to me and hissed in my face “I fucking give UP!” And with that, he bounced through to the living room as if none of that had been said and handed a glass of wine each to my parents, who were simultaneously appreciative and embarrassed, as only parents can be in someone else’s house on Christmas Day. I saw Dad place his glass discreetly to one side and start a conversation about the bookshelves. Nice save.

I sighed. Started slicing cabbage and tending to the spuds. Rearranging pans in the oven and turned on the gas rings.

Starters went off ok. A prawn cocktail so huge it might have beaten lesser appetites. Fortunately, we’re all big eaters in my family, so Stephen’s generosity with the prawns and salad were appreciated. The conversation wasn’t the best, but then I’d sized up the empties in the kitchen and, what with his Bucks Fizz breakfast at his sister’s earlier, I reckoned Stephen was at least two and a half bottles down, so it was almost impressive he was still able to have a stab at conversing at all.

“Go on, Mr Davies, go on, who would you rather have a fight with? Your daughter? Or Mrs Davies here?” Stephen grinned and squeezed my mum’s arm. A little too tightly, judging by the frown she gave him back. “I know who I’d rather go up against!” Stephen nodded, smugly to himself, “she is an absolute BALL breaker!” Here, he nodded in my general direction and swilled some more wine down his throat. My dad laughed, weakly and patted my leg under the table. “Yup, I’m going to GET IT tomorrow, both barrels. Well, fuck it. It’s Christmas.” He shook his head as mum offered him the water jug.

It was just then I noticed the smoke, billowing from the kitchen. I made some noises but Stephen was in full swing and waved me away. “What WE need, Mr Davies, sir,” he joculated, “is a bit of Babs! What say you? Best of?” he galloped to the CD player and started waving discs in the air. The smoke was thickening behind the half closed kitchen door, wafting out at us in puffs. Mum coughed. Hastily, I grabbed the plates and took myself through, feigning ‘sous chef’ duties and topping mum’s glass up as I went.

It wasn’t the turkey, thankfully. The parsnips had bought it. So black I could charcoal draw with them. Not knowing quite what to do first in such a confined space, I opened the back door – ahhhhh, fresh air! – and shovelled them into the bin. Back inside, Stephen was swaying in the middle of his kitchen, looking lost. I decided to take charge. I steered him back towards the living room, murmuring supportive overtunes of ‘turkey looks fab’ and ‘more wine for mum?’ as I bid a hasty retreat and set about rescuing the dinner. Only an hour after we’d planned to eat, we sat back down at the table and had, for all that had gone awry, a really rather tasty Christmas meal. Mum had spotted my plight and rescued the gravy, carved the meat and set the platters out for the ‘serve yourself style’ Stephen had envisaged. (Believe it or not, months of planning had gone into today.) Dad had a glass of wine with his lunch, which went down very well, on lots of counts, and Stephen seemed to be making a come back.

When suddenly he declared “fucking women! It’s all about the fucking women isn’t it? What hope do I have, then, I wonder? Couldn’t have done any of this without these two fucking women! You’re amazing!” and raised his glass in toast. We mumbled our assent and tried to talk happily over Barbara Streisand, pull crackers and so on, when Stephen interjected again. “To the fucking sous chefs!” and we all toasted once more, clinking glasses and avoiding eye contact where possible. There was a pause and, when it was clear Stephen had finished, staring into space enjoying some private reverie or other, we carried on with our chatter.

Mum cleared the table and silently started to wash up. I offered a hand and began putting things away. “He’s probably very tired,” she whispered, kindly, “it takes a lot to put on Christmas lunch doesn’t it?” I nodded, grimly, and went back to stacking the dishes. From the table we heard snippets of dialogue, mostly from Stephen, some rescue attempts by Dad.

“…..would you prefer? knife or fork?…..but if you had to choose?”

“…..greatest living Icon. I think we’d get on really well.”

“…some Waterstones vouchers, a new jumper and some slippers…..”

We lit the pudding, though Stephen couldn’t have cared less, and sat down to watch the recorded Queen’s Speech. This was the highlight, he said, of his day, then promptly fell asleep. My parents and I edged our way back to the dining room table and had a game of cards. We told some jokes and chatted about my brother, on the other side of the world again, and sorely missed. Dad helped himself to more pudding and mum said she needed to move, her ankle was throbbing from all the sitting. So we went round the block for an amble. When we returned Stephen was still fast asleep, shirt untucked and sprawled across the sofa, snoring so loudly we heard him from outside.

Dad drew himself up to his full 5’8″ and coughed. “Girls, I’m taking you home.” We scurried around, gathering gifts and cards and coats and bags and loaded up the car. I tried to shake him awake but he was dead to the world. I switched off the fire, fed the cat and drew the curtains. “Night, night,” I whispered sadly as Stephen snored on, “Merry Christmas.”

 

Greed

It was Derek’s idea, all this. One bay each, painted outside the house, with the house number stencilled in for good measure. Those with a dropped curb would get double yellows, those without got their bay. That way it was one car per household. Fair’s fair, he said. Well it was, they all agreed. But where did that leave those of them with two cars? Or overnight guests? She blushed slightly, despite herself. Still, they’d all be taken along with it, the campaign, the fliers, the speech in the pub. She’d actually quite liked seeing the 19 painted on the tarmac outside her house. Everyone had known where everybody was. It was reassuring.

Until Next Door had to get rid of the Austin Metro. Something about a failed eye test, a near miss. The family so far away, they worried. It set the cat amongst the pigeons in more ways than one.

Esme stood at the window and waited some more. Her phone was hot in her palm from gripping it so long. If they didn’t hurry up they’d miss the show. Come on, come on, she muttered.

Finally!

Next Door were back. She watched as he guided his wife down the path, gripping her arm, Esme supposed, for his own support as much as hers. They did ever so well, everyone said so. Sharp as tacks, the pair of them. Esme allowed herself a grim smile. Didn’t she know it. The minibus reverse signal beeped into the damp air of the culdesac and Esme fumbled with her ‘phone.

they R back

she texted, then paused…

all systems GO! (smiley face with horns) c u in 15

kiss?

x

Esme bounced from the window seat, grabbed her bag, Mac and the cake tin and ventured to open the front door. Keys, keys, where are the bloody keys? she muttered. Her teeth felt on edge, she was so excited. Just as she found them (behind the peace lily on the hall table) and shook them into the keyhole (what were all these bloody keys for anyway? she’d have to have a sort out) she heard next door’s chimes go. Esme froze. A manoeuvre she was accustomed to, from so many days spent avoiding the neighbours she suddenly felt so compelled to commune with.

Was that Derek’s voice?

Stuck, she stood stock still behind the glass of her front door, praying he wouldn’t make out the colour of her Mac through the bubbles. The rise and fall of his irritating, sing-song voice, the edge of his accent, the boom-boom of that stage laugh he did. Esme could fill in the gaps for herself.

“Couldn’t help but notice you’d sold the Austin? Should have come to me! I’d have given you a fair price! Did they? Oh, well, well done you! Still as sharp as a tack! I know, you do ever so well. We all say it. Well, yes, the reason I’m here. No, I won’t trouble you to come in, I know you’re busy. Oh, well, yes, alright then, that would be most kind, most kind.”

Esme ran her thumb across the telephone screen.

abort

she texted.

D beaten me to it. Bay 17 gone.

Vanity

He’d been at the house just over three weeks now. He knew which stair to step over to avoid the Chinese spice jar rattling its lid so as not to wake her. He knew which cat was most likely to hiss at him. He knew how to avoid the embarrassment of certain bathroom noises, by running the shower as he toileted on those mornings she wasn’t out at work. He knew how her perfume smelled. He knew she’d rather wear her hair up, than down and he knew she had a nephew she adored. Well, he assumed she adored him. There were pictures of him all over the house.

The house was comfortable, as digs went. The large double was, in fact, a large double. An unusual truth in this competitive and artistically licensed world he inhabited. The kitchen was new, clean and housed all the utensils he might need, were he to cook a meal, ever. But the life of a dancer on the road tended to dictate food on the go, meals grabbed at unusual hours, either stabs at healthy eating, like an M&S sushi tray, or a blatant two fingers to cardiac arrest in night after night at McDonald’s.

His Mum worried about his diet but, he told her, there really was no need when he burned off as many calories as he ate anyway. It all cancelled itself out.

Her bedroom door was ajar again. Did that mean, he wondered, something? Probably not. He shook his head. Still, as he sat on the bed to remove his trainers and his socks, he fancied he heard her stop breathing a little, in her bed next door. Straining to hear if he was undressing, perhaps. Noisily he undid his zip. Withdrew his belt. Kicked his jeans to one side. He listened. Nothing. Well, not nothing. The faint snore of the cat on the landing – the hissy one – but no bed springs or padding of feet on carpet or murmured hello. He ran his fingers through his hair and grinned at himself in the mirror.

Vain prick.

Truth

I’ve recently been struggling with this notion of Truth which people throw out there so often at the moment. “Be true to yourself,” they say, “listen to your inner Truth,” they advise, “are you speaking your Truth?” they ask. I try. I strain to hear. I don’t know. Are some of my responses.

A friend described it as “authenticity” and I nearly gave myself a nervous breakdown straining to feel that as the new word which might explain what everyone meant by the old one.  You know when you try to spell a weird word you don’t use very often? And the more you write it the less it looks right? The less sense it makes as a shape? That’s what was happening. Why couldn’t I recognise my truth? What was my truth? How could I find it? What did authentic mean? Am I authentic?Is my hair? My art? Aaaaaaarrrggghh!

I explored the words, I googled them, I read up on the definitions, I tried to apply what everyone else seemed to mean to what I thought it should mean for me (keeping up, here?!) and I got more and more frustrated.

Which led, I think, to some anger. I didn’t know it was there, really, until today, when a friend I met for Christmas gift swap shop commented on my energy. “You seems angry,” she said, simply, and it threw me somewhat. Me? Angry? Never! I’m a gentle little soul, me, I’m never cross with anyone. No, wait, sometimes I am. Usually me. I brushed it aside, but as with most simply put things, it stayed with me.

I arrived home from our get together and craved a bit of alone time, sketching and sticking. I pottered up to my studio and sat at my table. I collaged for a bit on a bowl I’ve been making. I started doodling in my sketch book. And I noticed a wonderful little nugget of warmth starting to spread across my chest.

No, it wasn’t a hot flush (not quite old enough yet, thank you) and it wasn’t indigestion. It was energetic melting. I had experienced something similar a few days ago. Sat in, what I thought was a very ‘light’, not at all focussed meditation session one morning before work (‘at least you’ve showed up’ I kept muttering to myself, trying to shush my mind as it squabbled with itself) I had the urge to ‘tap into’ Ganesha, the Hindu God. I have a couple of Ganesh statues around my home and I find him a peaceful, jolly energy to have around. Whether or not this ‘instruction’ was divinely received (I was doubting it, as I sat twitchy, un enthused and very aware of the springs under where I sat) I snatched at it as something which might help me focus and, the following morning, plugged myself in to a mantra via YouTube of the ‘prayer to help remove obstacles’, om gam gamapataye namaha . As soon as I began to join in with the chant a beautiful sense of peace spread across my chest and I felt something lift, or melt, around my heart.

So here I am, doodling in my studio today, pondering the words of my friend on anger, still mulling over the problematic syntax of truth and authenticity which often plague me at my creative station, when I suddenly experienced the very same melting sensation as I had in my previous meditation. What was the link?

image

Well, as I looked down, I realised I had started, not quite with awareness, to write over and over ‘om gam gamapataye namaha’ on my pad. Excited, I turned the page and started drawing the Om symbol. Which became a Mandala (spiritual symbol which represents the universe and its vibrations).

image

image

 

Which then, on the next page, became a Ganesh collage. Which led to me checking what it is he holds in his hands (a conch, an axe, a gada and one is held up in blessing). Which led to discovering the simplest but most enlightening truth I have ever read, (so simple that if it’s underwhelming I apologise now, in advance). I read this:

Conch: the call to abide in the inner voice of truth, the conscience.

And something in my belly went POP and now I feel, to quote the ads, epic. Of course! TRUTH = conscience. It’s very very simple and I was making it very very complicated. It’s all about semantics. If ‘speak your truth’ speaks to you, as a phrase, fantastic, I’m very very happy for you. But for me, it just didn’t chime. And, as a worry wart, that bothered me. NOW, though, if someone says, listen to your inner truth, or are you being true to yourself, or speak your truth, or any of those other conundrummy little phrases my little head just couldn’t seem to grasp, I can check in with the pared down version of what they really mean, which is: does your conscience allow it? I feel like I can happily leave 2015 with that as my most valuable lesson. Don’t over complicate it.

Thank you, Ganesh!

Namaste.

Positive Wrist Action (or wrist assessment….or wrist and reward)

Ahhhhh, the miraculous subtlety of healing via thought. Get this:

I’ve been having a few issues with my family of late. I’ve been feeling a bit rejected, a little bit left out, very mildly unimportant to them as they race around their lives expecting and demanding I be fine doing my thing as they do theirs. This feeling has been exacerbated by a bout of illness (or maybe the illness was brought on by the feeling) and I have found myself increasingly angry with their lack of forethought and care as I lay languishing at home, feeling sorry for myself as each of those I hold most dear failed to call, text or drop by.

I started to experience real RAGE at this situation. With every day without a call, I got more and more wrapped in the blazing heat this rude and inconsiderate behaviour ignited in me. SO self obsessed, I thought of them, SO stuck in their own little ruts. SO selfish, SO thoughtless, SO cruel.

Or was that me, I wondered, in more lucid moments. NO NO, my brain called out, NO, its THEM, THEY’RE the ones, THEY’RE to blame.

And so I continued, muttering and moaning to myself, angrier and angrier with every day that passed. The result? Well, a row with my mum, a stand off with my dad, a week of misery at work and a sense of deep despair, so loaded and heavy, my limbs were aching and my guts were churning. Ah, the despair of the melodramatic sensitive soul.

Any hoo…..today I picked myself up by the boot straps and decided to get some air down my lungs. I wanted to feel the earth, breathe in the cold, wipe away my frustrations and do some digging. I spent a happy few hours cleaning my new patio space, moving a few pots about, and loading rubble into sacks. I cleared, I swept, I placed. Then I started on the flower borders. I ripped out the dying flowers, pulled up the weeds and bagged up the sticks and leaves. Those smells! In themselves, so soothing, but I enhanced my day with a list of gratitude prayers, kind of like a background loop going on in my head as I worked. If I caught myself reverting back to those, ‘they’re SO rude’ mantras, I tuned them out with
‘thank you for the Earth, thank you for the flowers, thank you for my fleece, thank you for these wellies, thank you for my thermal socks, thank you for the outdoors, thank you for the sky, thank you for the sun, thank you for these gloves, thank you for the air I breathe, thank you for my healthy lungs, thank you for the strength in me, thank you for who I get that from, thank you for my parents, thank you for progression…..’ and so on.

One of my great loves is my open fire (thank you for my open fire) and I adore sitting and building a pyramid of sticks and paper and coal and igniting it and blowing on it and creating warmth and colour and light in an instance. I love to watch it burn up high and crackle and roar and I love to watch it lay lower and mumble and murmour while I watch a film or stroke the cat. So I took advantage of this mood of doing and began breaking up sticks for my fire later tonight (thank you for anticipation).

I used a mallet to bash a few old planks up and snapped a few lighter, thinner pieces over my knee. My mantras were still playing in the background (thank you for wood, thank you for the trees, thank you for Mother Nature, thank you for fire, thank you for warmth, thank you for Light, thank you for colour) but I was also thinking, in a nice little overlay, about my studio and my journals and a link to a woman called Lisa Sonora my friend had sent me some time ago. (Check her out: http://www.lisasonora.com) I was thinking, specifically, about her pages on going with the flow. Suddenly, as I snapped a piece of wood across my thigh (thank you for my thighs) I felt an intense and brief pain in my wrist. It was so sharp and so hot I thought maybe I had somehow broken it. But then it just disappeared. No pain.

I held my breath. Perhaps this was the lull whilst my brain caught up to my nerve endings and whatever I’d snapped would start screaming at me any second. As a precaution, I began reiking my arm, but if I’m honest, I was still worried. And then, very slowly and deliciously, a wonderful sense of well-being and calm and peace descended upon me. It hasn’t left. I feel like I’ve been given a gift. It’s very wonderful, but somewhat odd. (Says my doubting Thomas of a brain).

So, as ever, I turned to my Bible: You Can Heal Your Life, by Louisa Hay. (If any of the metaphysics I’m getting at here interest you and you haven’t yet got a copy of that book, go out now and buy one. It’s an essential.) Under ‘wrist problems’ is listed: Not being flexible on an issue or situation. Not handling things with ease. Stubbornness. Wrists represent movement and ease.

Hmmmmmm.

And the mantra for healing such an issue? ‘I handle all my experiences with wisdom, with love and with ease.’

Or, to put it another way, ‘I go with the flow’.

Now, the doubters will doubt and all that, but there in my garden I felt all that anger I’d be carrying around with me, all that illness, all that hate, just POOF, disappear with that snap going off in my wrist. And as a direct pre-cursor to that happening, my thoughts were aligning with love and I was considering my need to get back to the flow. It’s a tricky thing to articulate, a sense of miracle in so seemingly insignificant a moment, by my shed, out in the garden, breaking up firewood -I’m aware its not a rescue from a burning bridge or an Angel appearing at the foot of the bed – but I feel just as content and healed as if both those things had occurred. It’s the little things. Thank you for the little things. Thank you for miracles. Thank you for moments of Blessing and Healing and Love. Thank you for our ability to Heal Ourselves with positivity.

Headstand – a new perspective

I did it. I took the plunge, made the move, sealed the deal. Back in February, after much research into finances, mortgage payments, responsible adult stuff, I told my boss I’d like to reduce my hours and work just three days a week in the nursery. The contract signed, there was no going back, and I embarked upon a new routine, now two weeks old.

Not long, then, to decide whether or not I’ve made a bold move or a crass error. My heart favours the first answer, my head, the latter.

Money is the key issue, as is so often the way when we follow our dreams. I’m holding my breath, anxious lest breathing out incurs some kind of disaster with the boiler, the axle on the car or freak accidents for the cats which would see my meagre ‘rainy day’ pot wiped out. Not really how I envisaged things. My dream, you see, was to create balance in my world, develop new lines in to my creativity and well being centre. I set up two, then three, yoga classes as a means to topping up my school teacher income. The idea being, school wages would cover the scary bills and yoga, well, that would pay for the food in the fridge. This was going well, when I was on a full time wage. The yoga classes were picking up momentum – purely in terms of success, you understand, not literally – and I felt sure, absolute, finite that my decision was the right one. Faced, though, with a mere four faces in two of my classes in the last fortnight, the terrifying reality that: no yogis=no food in the fridge, set in pretty rapidly. This lead, in the last few days, to a crash in mood.

Now, I’m a big believer that change can leave us shattered as much as running a marathon might. I know that the energies around us shift at season change time, and drain us in their rearrangement. I’m a fan of the positive mental attitude and actualisation and visualisation and know being brave can, well, result in feeling like a coward until the dust settles on a drastic decision or life changing re-direct and that one must simply dig deep, hold on and stay calm. But really, the last few days have been so depressing in their relentlessness, in the ache my limbs and their sneering inner voice going “haha, you’ve ballsed this right up”, it’s taken all my strength not to go crawling back to my boss begging for full time hours and a slap in the face with a wet fish for good measure.

The thought of his potentially sneering face on my begging, however, stopped me. Yet still I found myself unable to get out of bed with much enthusiasm, weird moments in the shower, finding myself in tears for no reason and a listless, directionless mood utterly ruining my days off. No painting, like I’d planned, no writing, no yoga-ing (unless for other people) and not a lot of joy at this brave new world I was forging. What on earth was going on? Who knows, frankly, but today, I was well and truly getting on my own nerves. I determined to a) do some gardening, b) meditate and c) do a headstand.

Gardening is very grounding. It soothes the soul, focuses the mind, surrounds you with clean, fresh air, colour and peace. So it helped. Meditation, especially after gardening, is very healing. The energies of the garden, the soil, the plants, the hidden creatures and the repetition so many of the little jobs like raking, digging, mowing and so on, merge to enhance your practice with focus and a sense of natural connection. Head stands. Well, they deserve their own paragraph, so bear with me while we move down the page a bit…..

……the first headstand I ever did was, I’m mutually ashamed and amused to admit, was undertaken earlier this year. I can’t recall the month, the day and all that, but I can recall the moment it happened. When my feet left the floor and found their way above my head. When my face flushed with the blood rush and my arms took the strain. It lasted all of thirty seconds, but the feelings it induced were more like those you experience at the end of an epic movie or song. I was elated. What had I been so afraid of? And this, I’m mutually ashamed and amused to admit, was the reason I hadn’t done one until now: fear. During my training to teach yoga, my tutor had explained that this was very common and I shouldn’t worry, that most people fear turning upside down and it didn’t mean you couldn’t teach others to do it if you didn’t do them yourself…..but even so, the little girl in me was a bit disappointed that I’d grown up to be someone who feared standing on her head. Lions, rabid dogs, being locked out in the cold, perhaps, but scared of a headstand? Pah! I used to watch TV hanging upside down on the sofa, for heavens’ sake! How hard can it be?

Honestly? Not very, at all, and very, absolutely. If you don’t do yoga, or sport or physical activity much, I’d recommend you don’t attempt one until your physical fitness is relatively good. Likewise if you’re pregnant, menstruating, have a bad neck, sinus trouble, glaucoma or very high blood pressure, don’t try it until you’ve talked to a doctor. But if none of that applies to you, and you’re curious, find a wall, set your hands on the ground in front of you as a triangular base, insert your head at the cup of your hands, rolling the crown down onto the floor and kick your legs up. It changes everything in an instant and, if you do one, you’ll know just what I mean. It is the reason little kids are so happy all the time, they’re constantly turning themselves upside down!

The shift in my mood since I took my own advice and stood on my head earlier today has been monumentous. I’m back to positive, nervous but optimistic, centred in faith, rather than fear. They don’t call the head stand the King of Asanas for nothing!

The benefits are, in no particular order:

a rest for the heart, increased blood flow to the brain, increased blood flow to the face (and muscle relaxant to create a ‘face lift’ effect), pituitary gland stimulation, lymphatic system stimulation, endorphins released, core strength improved, focus altered, psychological perspective altered, arms strengthened….and loads more. Look them up, then try one.

If the headstand’s a bit extreme just now (and don’t despair, it’s taken me nearly twenty years to discover my inner child again!) simply work on teaching your body it’s ok to be upside down. Do downward facing dog, to support your whole frame and get your head inverted, or hang off the sofa for a bit (nice and comfy!), or lean over to touch your toes and get used to the weight of your head. Any inversion is good for the soul, the mind and the body. Enjoy it and let your body guide you to what you’re ready for.

Namaste.

I’m back

My sky inspired me.

My sky inspired me.

So, I return. I have to admit, the lack of posting has largely been due to fear. Ok, entirely to do with fear. Not of the creative kind. I wrote a rambling long piece about motherhood (or lack of) and how a GP had reduced me to tears when I’d enquired about artificial insemination with a series of comments, thus: ‘so you’re gay? No? Well, go to the pub then, I should. Far easier!’ and I freaked out that I’d accidentally posted it on my work blog.

I hadn’t. Phew.

I think enough time has passed for me to brave the blogosphere once more. I’ve missed it.

Enough of that. Painting! As in, I am again, and I’m (quite) enjoying it. Years ago a friend of a friend said he didn’t like the paintings I was producing as they had nothing of me in them. Flash forward and suddenly I’m painting stuff I NEVER thought I’d do, namely, landscapes, but they feel like there’s a tonne of me in them. I guess, though, with my love of gazing out of my windows for hours on end at the sky (my sky), the fields, the two mating buzzards living in the trees out back, the allotments and their gorgeous wabi-sabi sheds, it stands to reason I’d find my way to this form eventually.

They’re tricky little beasts though. I very much use the ‘non edit’ approach in all forms of creativity. I kind of hurl myself into the fray, scrabble around a bit and come out the other side quite breathless. If it’s shit, whatever transpired during the melee, I’m disappointed, but I don’t try and rectify it. I guess that makes me a purist? I’d rather leave things as they stand and hope for better things in the next round. It’s very mood driven, very medatively produced (despite the initial fight, if things go quiet, I know I’m onto a winner) and I don’t, generally, feel I’ve had much to do with it. I’ll try out a few new techniques and learn a few new tricks, but the cobbling together bit is very much happy accident driven.

Well, not really, because as you know I believe in Divinity taking a hand in it all, but it was easier to say happy accident.

In the landscaping of my landscapes, however, I’ve had to take a breather and return to the canvas in more than one occasion. There is no speedy way to get one down, nor is there a simple route to teasing one out of the paint. It’all only arrive when it’s good and damn well ready and that might takes weeks. And so far, I haven’t yet finished one.

I’m looking into my process in reaction to these new forms springing out of me. Trying to find a ‘pin down able’ routine to getting inspired, staying inspired and getting something finished. So far, it eludes me somewhat. There are always words first. I get a mood on, a scratchy, itchy little mood which just won’t lie down. I’ll clean the house a bit, or potter about in the garden, or I’ll go shopping for things I don’t need. A bit like a kid avoiding bed time, is how it feels. Then, very reluctantly, I’ll go and stand in the doorway of my studio and move a few bits and pieces around on the table. I might, sometimes, do a bit of tidying in there to take ownership of it. Lay out some brushes or something. This can go on for days.

When I DO prop myself up on my stool and take action, it’s generally in the form of words. Either cutting some out and sticking them on a collage, or typing some, or googling inspirational quotes, or blogging. (Tadaaaah!) More recently it’s taken the form of journaling, inspired by my lovely friend, M, who tries out all manner of approaches but is very much more disciplined and down with the kids when it comes to being ‘a proper artist’, (that’s not me quoting her, that’s me quoting me), and uses journaling as a regular springboard into creativity. I found, the first time I, did it, that a book to journal in was simply too terrifying a concept, so I opted for loose sheets of paper. It felt delicious, the freedom of no staples or string binding! Then I moved to a book with perforations, so I could easily escape if needed. Now I’m all grown up and have not one, but TWO journals on the go, both different shapes and sizes and bind styles. I’m mixing it up. Both are word based.

Then, after a couple of days or so, I’ll tentatively start sticking papers to things. Board, or canvas or card. Then I might crack open a tube of paint and then, wooooosh! off I go. But before that, I’ve realised recently, there’s also the very important part where I just look at stuff. I didn’t realise it was part of my process even, until I saw a documentary on some artist or other who said ‘just sitting here, now, looking at all this, I’m working’ and promptly sat in silence, in the sun, for about three hours, watching passerby. No sketches, no words, just looking. He happened to be in India, in front of a beautiful temple, watching the dramatic colours of the saris and the shadows altering, but I do exactly that, too, just from my windows in Middle England. Or on a beach, if I’m lucky enough to get to one. Or on a long walk through a field. I, as every artist does, I suppose, look and watch and observe and drink with my eyes. And all that comes out in the painting part. The word part is a kind of clearing out. I ramble, I argue, I mope, I ask endless questions and then, when there are no more words, I can get on with the colouring in bit.