Looking around at the utter chaos of my home at present I know that the weeks before the New Year is marked in this household need for my own sake to be ones of clean and scrub and most of all stepping back and taking a long hard probably somewhat jaundiced view of life here in this small world.
The stresses and strains of the past year are being felt not only personally as in mind and body but looking around the cottage and garden the cracks and fissures are evident where jobs have been left and others not even begun and the gap between living and surviving has closed to a space so small it is difficult for me to notice the difference some of the time.
This year has thrown so much into the spotlight which I would have preferred stayed in the shadows and the shadows in their perverse way have enlarged and engulfed to leave me creeping forward in more trepidation than is good for the knickers:0) I am left considering this walk into the 50’s as something I might well pass on but know the journey continues and the numerals have nothing to do with it. In three weeks time I will have entered and begun to walk through my 52nd year so the year before and the year after celebration and commemoration of my 50th birth day will have transformed into daily ‘ordinary’ life once more. What a relief!
The heralding and the waking of the 50’s have been marked by the kind of upheaval and challenge I think can be my portion for the next ten years, if I were to have any say in it. I know that the say I do have is not in anything happening as such but in my approach and choices; the perception is all.
That I cannot deny that the two year period I set aside for beginning and acclimatising to the 50’s have been in no small part pure unadulterated hell actually makes me laugh out loud and smile heart deep which I am sure will make some think that the madness that dances at the edges of my life has finally moved in lock stock and barrel and the road from now on will be down hill and petering out.
I on the other hand find myself smiling because I know that choices have been made and my approach to life and living have if anything become more firm, more clear and more real to this mind and heart and this is the true reason to celebrate and commemorate.
That there is reason for sadness, regret even, is just the honest whole that makes up the life I call mine. Perfection is hardly a word spelt correctly in this life let alone expressed and lived in any clear or cogent way but eyes look up and glimpse it and heart opens and finds it in moments and the mind just has to one day learn how to accept this fully ha-ha.
I find myself looking round at the wreckage of the cottage environment – think demented burglar who decided nothing worth stealing so in a fit of pique tosses clothes books, bags, and all manner of unimaginable ‘stuff’ wily nily in ever room then encourages their dog to go roll in the mud and roll round kitchen sitting room and hallway to hide their footprints and there you have a small idea of the huge horror that is my home at this moment. Or you could think of the stage directions for the set of the caretaker and there is my home too….great eh.
This ‘all so much surface’ a mop and bucket a roll of black bin liners and some concerted effort can clear away in a matter of days if not hours but it is the mess within, the betrayal of idea, imagining and dare I say it ideals that will take gentle slow approach and long cleaning and opening of windows before I will begin to feel like deep breaths are not rasping gasps.
Some parts of the life which I hold dear and in turn hold me have not been dumped, screwed up and dropped, thrown with intent to smash or just unconsciously lost but they are a little dusty and have the odd grime mark across their surface which does little to help light reflect off the surface to my heart and mind.
The physical exhaustion and mental fatigue I carry at present gnaw at all areas of my life and the teeth marks are all too evident. Some parts of the damage are not repairable but this seems a good thing for it offers me opportunity to create and replace with other that may well have needed to be done before this time but I didn’t have the space caused by turmoil to look afresh at the areas now so starkly beyond a quick patching exercise.
I do not know what the days ahead may bring and find myself not at all worried about this for I a convinced that dealing with the moment is as much as I can possibly manage but this does not mean that I can pretend that days ahead may not arrive and so a life built in the moment is also a life built towards the future and informed by the past.
The past has been a riot of activity and core of stillness which I suspect will remain the process of moving into each moment that I continue to adopt it is just that I know the practicalities need and must change if the activity and stillness continue as a harmony not as some in-fight that spills out in messy environment internal and external.
First start with the really obvious like the chaos of a home hardly cleaned or cleared for months with me racing in and out like operative in some B movie murder mystery. The murder in this case has been to myself and the mystery is how on earth I have managed to keep so many plates spinning as I limped from one pole to the next. The ones that have smashed to the floor are spread around me as I write in a home I cherish not as item on some tick list of ownership but because it is place of sanctuary and safety for my self however as I write that I know even this has been tarnished by the lack of time and care given and that is a deep sadness. It was both choice and negation so is a complicated mess like much else of my life:0)
That the running and out was for someone else, that the physical and mental malaise have in quite large part been caused by using up energies for another is no reason to blame them or their situation , though of course there have been moments when I have railed in that direction out of sheer frustration and because of a history of that person walking away, not engaging, negating and denying my life and living but when it comes down to it I made conscious choices to not echo their way of living a very long time ago now and so for the first years of my 50’s I have continued to be me though in truth there have been more than a few moments when I have considered other but that seemed to involve looking round at the last 50 years and saying what a waste, what a futile game and if that is the case why the hell walk forward into the next years.
I rarely look back except to laugh at the ridiculous situations I have found myself in and oft times put myself in, I do not look back in wistfulness or wakeful regret I would rather continue to look forward, to look to the sunrise and the promise it holds each morning of renewal, energy and warmth and wish only that my life embrace some of this and find ways of sharing with others who may find they wish to share too.
However, I do not believe that pain is a way through to bliss and know that the next years of the 50’s cannot be like the last two.
Before anyone gets further confused the birth day that is fast approaching will be my 51st but I work on the premise that the day after each birth day is the beginning of the next year as birth days mark the end of a year not the beginning so the day after my 49th birth day I entered my 50th year hence me celebrating and commemorating a year before and a year after my 50th birth day which was in fact last year. That I was born on Celtic New Years day and is marked in the Christian calendar as All Saints Day usually falls near Diwali – this year that falls before my birth day which is great excuse for special food and lights before my ‘special’ day, has always amused me especially the fact of being born on not just a saints day but an all saints day nothing like covering all bases.
So the last two weeks of October are always time for me to review, renew and reawaken and this year it feels more needed than ever.
The list of ‘to do’ could stretch to the moon and back if I got into a real frenzy but in truth there is no long list and not over expectation of doing in these next two weeks. Rather I see these days as gift to stop, breath and begin anew in slow but purposeful ways. That there will be mops swished and dusters shaken is without question, that cupboards will be cleaned, cleared and rearranged is hoped for, that daily life will be given over to sense of being not doing is essential but all in all this next two weeks will be just a moment and I know my focus and intent needs be about standing in it in stillness and purpose and finding peace.
At this time of the year I begin to make one list that is about dreams, wishes and needs. Note there are no wants there. I try very hard to discern what is real need and what is just a want of emotion or greed. By trying hard I mean I endeavour to let go and let be and amazingly what usually happens is that I find a list written I would never have planned.
There will be practical things like a new pair of shoes because the ones I am wearing are showing definite signs of falling apart or there will be a pair of reading glasses because the present ones help but don’t make everything quite so clear, it could be I look at my tools and discover one given away or worn out needs replacing and so the practical list builds up.
The dreams are ones that have travelled with me especially in the year and seem important to write down as they may be more than beacon, may need to be signpost or even staging post in the coming year.
The wishes are about less concrete but often practical things like wishing that someone may find time to offer a helping hand when I need it, that others might come into my life and bring new ideas and thoughts to my heart and mind, that I may honour the Earth in ways un-guessed at but made ready for in daily living.
Wishes could be seen as the most ephemeral items on the list but they are usually the most important it turns out at the end of a year.
When the list is written I fold it carefully and put it safely in an envelope and leave it near a vase where I regularly put flowers and light candles in welcome to the day and night. I do not look at it again until the weekend before my birth day when I open it and am usually quite surprised by just how much of the list has been fulfilled and could be ticked off if that were important.
I consider the items that have not come to fruition and usually end up laughing at the reality, which is often that those items were too small, too timid and have been superseded by other wonders. On the eve of my birth day I light a fire plus candles and let go of the old list into the flames also letting free the spirits of those who have left my life through death or other reason who I may have been clinging on to for some sake of my own rather than theirs. In a heart there is always room to carry love and that is what I concentrate on the night before my birth day, let the spirits run free let the love continue to cherish and be warmed by the gift that was their presence in my life even if the experience may not always have been comfortable, easy or wanted:0)
As I consider the next two weeks and look around at the wreckage of the cottage, garden and my self I know it will be an ‘interesting couple of weeks but seems only right to knuckle down and get moving with mop and duster but most of all with some time for consideration and collecting those thoughts and fashioning them in to a life that feels almost worth the effort of getting out of bed, that finds meaning in watching the sun rise and often discovers laughter in each moment.
One of the things I know will be on my next years list is my health both physical and mental which will find itself in the needs dreams and wishes and I acknowledge this almost first autumnal morning in temperature has been avoided, dismantled and plainly had many spanners thrown in the works quite deliberately and by ‘accident’ of omission.
The amount of self harm I have inflicted upon myself would not be evident to anyone else save for the more rounded hips from too many grabbed fried egg sandwiches and chocolate digestives as I scrabbled to get to places I had no energy to even really consider let alone mange to get to but there have also been the many moments when food had been placed in mouth with little or no awareness save for the fact that it was means to stop me screaming – not a good eating plan me thinks.
That someone who cuts themselves is seen as a self harmer in red block capitals but someone like myself who has used all manner of food as blade is just seen as fat makes me wonder where is the understanding in that. Finding ways to understand and survive take many forms and many are not particularly gentle to a body but for a moment may give relief and insight to the moment, or that’s what I may well tell myself.
That in my case fat has always been fine, no size 0 in the area of my hips ever, that my chest kind of mitigated against 100mtres dash never stopped me from swimming, playing squash, riding a bike, climbing rock faces or all manner of other physical activity but when health took a down turn some of the things I loved had to be left alone for the safety of myself and others so walking and swimming became key to continuing to swing my hips in a meaningful way:0)
In the last year especially even walking has been sidelined and swimming stopped. The walking has taken not second place but probably twenty second place as much time and even more energy has been poured in to me sitting in a car and driving when I was able and on a couple of occasions when I was less able than I would have wished but never when others might have suffered because of my lack.
The swimming stopped because for the first time ever in my life I was scared in water. Back in February March time I experienced a massive increase in the vertigo that is a constant part of my life whilst in the pool and it took all my willpower and bloody mindedness to reach the side of the pool and make a very long a tortuous way to dressing room and then home. That it took me some five hours to succeed in falling through my front door was a huge blow and I still reel from the thought but water has a stronger pull than fear and one of the things that I know is also going to be on the list as huge need is to swim again a few days a week, I have cheated a little on this as I have a friend is coming to spend a few days with me during birth day week and she and I are going to the pool. As she has hauled me off floors and all manner of situations in the past she is probably the one person I know will neither panic nor stop me from trying again but also know she’ll be there to guide me back to the side if I do suddenly find that water really is a no no for me – this I doubt but I am realist enough to understand that even my will cannot stop some less than co-operative times with my body.
As to walking, well that never actually stopped given the presence of RnB but as to walking for hours that has been sadly lacking so maps are being dusted off and my two companions are being told of the adventures we may have together. This means that rather than carry the rucksack weight around my hips I need to pack the bag and be able to carry it on my shoulders. No I am not about to say I am putting Atkins diet or some such on the list. But the word diet will go on it. Diet as in awareness of what I put in my mouth and why, diet as in planning ways to accommodate the need to stop myself screaming without stuffing a fried egg sandwich or chocolate digestive in to mouth… maybe a raw carrot might just be better:0) You see I do not think that I am going to stop ‘self harming’ or at least not having the need to try and sort things out in ways others might not but I can certainly make the choice to tailor this need in to something less hurtful to my body whilst still offering my mind a breathing space.
I could say that through meditation and my five daily prayer cycle I can draw myself away from such situations that make me want to scream which is true and it does give me anchor and quiet water to float in to find my self again and the connections to Earth and stars and much else that seem important to me but though I may have been born on the saints day it means no more than I am maybe one in the making, just like most other human beings I think, so the halo slips regularly blinding me, trapping a lot of bile in the belly and generally tripping me up as it falls to my feet. Chewing and swallowing are daft dangerous and disliked means of coping but doesn’t stop me when the alternative seems so much worse. Of course there is another alternative and that is where my lists intent will be for the coming year.
No intent to become Twiggy just the intent to become more my self and less at the same time:0) Clinically Obese are such crushing, careless words when the whole person is not considered and there take on the world and their own life dismissed. Must be the same for those who roll their sleeves up to reveal a wonder of slashes and cuts which in the right light can look like the most interesting and beautiful weaving – hey I have a different take on life don’t you know:0) Yes the pain and hurt that cutting will inflict is true but look beyind that and discover the mind and the human heart that has reached this solution and there cannot always be complete horror, lack or madness. Signposts and maps are created using many different materials and marks.
My signpost and map is my body, that I have chosen not to cut or slash does not mean that fired egg sandwich or chocolate digestive overdose are not colourful alternatives. That I recognise what I have been doing to myself at the beginning of my 50’s does not bring solution but it does give reason to find myself smiling and knowing that life has a few more days for me to foul up in, find meaning in and most of all be in.
On October 15th 2006 I have sixteen days left before I mark the end and beginning, find myself a year older, discover life is sweet as always even if I may have a sour taste in my mouth some times. On October 15th 2006 I look around my small cottage and wince at the messy chaos but have not managed to bury mop, bucket or duster so know all will be clean and, gosh almost typed tidy there:0), in an order that pleases my eye and heart if no one else. On October 15th 2006 I am tired, in pain and a little fearful – so life is much the same as usual ha-ha. On October 15th 2006 I look forward, up, inward and know that answers will never be counted larger than the number of questions but that some answers and questions are the same and finding acceptance of this is means to fall flat on my face and still find a smile in my heart and mind.
On October 15th 2006 I look at the gorgeous organic vegetables I picked up from the Gower and a larder that has more than eggs and chocolate digestives in it – though they are certainly not going to be banned, and I know I am so very fortunate to have this food available for not only literally feeding my body but as means to begin to once again consider my diet, to realign with the good and positive that food has always been to me. To accept that I am a self harmer in my use of food some times and understand that I don’t actually have to then beat myself up about that just begin with a softer more caring option like the carrots and explore the real whys of my responses.
In a years time I will be thinking about a new list and planning on the opening of the one I am about to make but today thoughts and feelings are about the now no matter the mess and chaos I may perceive in my life I am thrilled to understand that the Earth continues to feed body mind and soul and in turn offers me ways to understand my self and the needs, dreams and wishes that are there for me to honour and walk towards.
That there may often be wants is just me being exceptionally human and that feels fine. It’s about the honesty of a sunrise, the freshness of a new day and the promise of renewal each day, that is all I need dream wish or want. After fifty years of practice I think I may have got the first step nearly right just the rest of the dance to learn:0