Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Weaving Summer Magic

I have been weaving summer magic in myriad ways. Connecting with the season through creativity. Touching its spirit.

After a couple of weeks away. A rocky transition in to the summer holidays. And my own ups and downs, I have been feeling the need to reconnect - with myself and the season and to ground myself, my body, to their place, this time.

On Saturday  had a full day to myself, after being in sole charge of kiddies for nearly a week. I wandered through the gardens of my father's house, harvesting flowers and foliage. Then settled n the sun in front of the tea house, my soul space, sacred space, I created a mandala and then surrounded it with the wreath, seated on the damp earth in the sunshine. All my sense alive. Drawn by my intuition as I worked - laying the plants out, bending, plaiting, stripping petals from stems.... drawn by their meaning and symbolism, as well as shape and colour, aware of the emerging wholeness, balance of the finished design.

Willow sliver grey and soft as mouse's ears, plaited for flexibility, strength and framework.
Pink hydrangea for beauty and longevity.
Regal purple clematis.
Roses to release anger.
Shamrock for luck and Irishness.
Melissa for calm and to ease anxiety.
Rose bay willow herb for my childhood and wild places.
Jasmine for purity and sensuality.
A pink rosebud at the centre, for the budding feminine.

Then later that day after meditation, feasting, writing and sleep I did a zentangle which I am delighted by - again being drawn to organic shapes, the mandala (or zendala as they are known!), the idea of the wreath, of weaving the season.

I am also doing a lot of harvesting and cooking: ice creams and sorbets, jams and savory concoctions. As well as lots of herb teas, including my summer tea of lemon balm, rose geranium and rose. Cooking with myriad fresh herbs, ingesting their magical and medicinal properties into our bodies is where its at for me right now. The same with the fruits, vegetables and flowers of the season - festooning our home with garden blooms, creating mini altars wherever their beauty touches.

Homemade raspberry and rose sorbet. Here's my recipe.

Friday, July 26, 2013


I am touched.

My last post was raw. I felt vulnerable. Naked. Aware that my own mother and soul sisters would be finding out an important part of me via blog, as I broadcast the state of my mind via the Internet to total strangers.

And so I was shocked, surprised and amazed by the response. The out-pouring, reaching out of love, the chorus of "me too"s as others came out to me for the first time, or shared that a loved one struggles with the same. I went from feeling alone to embraced by others walking the same path. Suddenly I wasn't the only mad'un out there with everyone else living their happy, sorted, balanced, sane lives. We were all naked together. Not like some misery-fest of "my path is shitter than yours", but in a sense of solidarity and mutual seeing.

I felt touched. Physically and emotionally.

Embraced in my nakedness by a circle of loving souls. In what felt like coming out, I felt acceptance where I feared there would be judgement, rejection and shame. 

It has opened dialogue, perhaps not even of words, but of authentic being and acceptance, between me and myself, me and you, and you and me. But please do be aware that it is something I find almost impossible to talk about. That is why I write. That is why I have always written. Anything, and everything important in my life. Because I have a need to communicate, soul to soul, but often struggle face to face. If you met me and started talking periods I would be the one stumbling around with words. But I write books on them. Same goes with this. I don't intend to have long involved conversations in real life about the current state of my moods. But I am glad of this sacred space, to reflect, share and grow. And I'm so very grateful to have you here with me. Truly.

When I figured out "what was wrong with me" I thought I knew how the road ahead would be. I thought that it redefined me in a bad way. That it invalidated me as the person I was to the world. As though it erased me, dismissed me, made evey part of me merely an untrustworthy symptom. And that was a scary thought.

 But between your insight and my own realisations I can see other ways along this path... Ones which integrate and strengthen everything that I have been cultivating: centredness, mindfulness, community, open communication, self-care, creativity as healing.... Seems like my mission, which I choose to accept, is to dive deeper in to all my practices with this new awareness. To really care for myself with new dedication, greater awareness of these extra cycles (more of this another time). To discover and develop a stronger place of centredness, groundedness, rootedness, to return to, to stay close to. Not because I ought to, which is what I often feel about mindfulness practices, but because I need to. I choose this path over the others available to me. And I am in a good place to choose it, there being no current crisis.

Yesterday, rather than cursing the heavens for this life sentence I gave thanks for the gift, that has broken me down, opened me up, drawn me to genuine intimacy with others, forces me to do self care things that I otherwise wouldn't, and brings me so much of my creative energy. I still don't know how to put it into language, not liking either term for it. Not liking either the way of saying that I HAVE BP or I AM BP... I choose not to be defined by or sick from it. But rather see it as an aspect which makes ME up.

So that is where I am. What a big few days it has been. Nothing has changed... And yet everything has. I have had to readjust my self-perception. My sense of what normal is, should look like and what the future may hold, I've had to readjust my relationship dynamics with my husband and kids, my self expectation. I've recalibrated memories in light of this. I've had to introduce this knowledge into friendships. I felt scared, but have passed through this and discovered that I am not alone. But loved and held far more deeply than I ever dared imagine. Loved in my weakness. Loved in my uniqueness.  

Not because of what I do, but who I am. 

And that is one of the profoundest, most precious experiences of my life. An antidote to the inner voices, one that I can call on to counter them when the darkness emerges.

 Thank you, dear souls. X

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Up...and down...

Everything is sex.

I said as we drove down the mountainside, Prince blaring on the stereo. The forests had a glow about them. The patterns in the foliage jumping out in 3D like one enormous zen tangle. I understood everything suddenly, it seemed. Everything was so clear, so fluid and golden. My body too. Liquid honey. Tastes, sights, feelings brighter and clearer. I squeezed his hand delighted to be here, to be alive. The Universe loved me. I was in love with every atom of life. 

And then two days later as though a pin had burst my bubble. Numb darkness and despair. Except there was no pin. A this and a that, but nothing to justify this complete deflation. All was darkness. I felt detached, alone, despised. Everyone hated me. I hated me even more. Thoughts ran and ran through my head. Bad thoughts. I looked out the window at the breathtaking mountain view, snowcapped in the dazzling July sunshine. Nothing. I felt nothing. It was as though a gauze curtain had been drawn betwen me and the world. Its beauty could not touch me. It was just me and the darkness in my head. Nothing else could find its way in. I slapped myself around the face. Not something I have ever done before. But better than other options. Something, anything to be able to feel again. Come on, snap out of it. Nothing. I cried and cried. Numb darkness.

It became less intense, but lingers on weeks later. Sudden sobs envelop me. A lack of words. Physical tremors. A need to hide. To cower. To run.

This time it was clear to me. All too clear. The high. The low. And no reasons. I had seen it in others, knew all the signs... But just not in myself. Because my highs are never totally off the spectrum. Instead they are like falling in love. Or being inspired with a new project. Racing thoughts... Being full of enthusiasms. Non-stop talking. I'd always written the good bits off as creativity, as a rise in libido, as spiritual epiphanies, as finally fucking feeling good after my general grumpiness and impatience... But now I see... Oh so clearly what this is that I'm dealing with. Many previous events in my life have taken on a totally different colour now. I see them more clearly as the symptoms of an illness, not just feelings, events.... But connected. The up and down of the see saw. Two parts of the same program. If I own one, I must own the other. Or I must surrender them both for a different existence. Which at this point is my last choice.

I feel pretty foolish for not having seen it before. The great thing about us human creatures is our lack of clear seeing of ourselves. So now I see. And if truth be told I'm scared. Scared of the life sentence. Of the endlessness. Of the way it gets exacerbated by stress. Of not knowing how big the swings could get. Of the legacy I pass on through genes and environment. And of what this means for my kids and man. I know from personal experience what it's like to live around. And I feel scared and angry and helpless and ashamed. And maybe it's been obvious to everyone else but me for years. Maybe I was the only one who didn't know.

But now I do. I'm working through it. Getting clear on how best to manage it... To manage stressors in my life. To mediate the seesaw. I haven't told a soul except Mr DA. I want to hold it so close. I don't talk about this with anyone. The D word is something I have previously tended to talk about past tense, when it's over. But with this there is truly no over. Ever. Instead there's a label which feels like a life sentence... I hate both of the terms equally... So I'm chosing not to label it. It's not an event. A one off. It's a cycle. And endless one. That takes me and everyone I love with it. Sure, I know that there's no shame or fault in it. It's quite de rigeur to have a mental illness. But fuck. Fuck it. I feel like I've done my fair share of that sort of thing in this life time...

My first instinct was to keep it from everyone, to hide it, bury it. It's always been my approach when it comes to my adventures with depression. I dont want pity or attention.... But actually I think that openness is probably a better bet. In the long run. Otherwise in every conversation there is this gulf, this inability to broach what is currently the biggest thing in my life. But which I genuinely do not want to talk about. And its not something I relish doing face to face. With any of my peeps. So I'm doing it here. And reserve the right to remove this post at any point. Then those of you who know, know. So when I press the panic button, or wave a red flag you'll know whats up, and can be my angels in shining armour. And when you see a peak or trough you can hold the space with love, and keep a gentle eye on me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My tangled passion

Howdy gang, sorry for the silence - I've been on my holidays. Barcelona and the foothills of the Pyrenees, dontcha know!! I took two books, and read a grand total of 8 pages - so what did I spend my time doing, apart from visiting aquariums, underground river trips, swimming in mountain rivers... ? Well, I discovered a new passion - tangling...

For those of you who haven't come across it: "Zentangles are a new trend in the drawing and paper arts world. The concept was started by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas as a way to practice focus and meditation through drawing, by using repetitive lines, marks, circles, and shapes. Each mark is called a "tangle," and you combine various tangles into patterns to create "tiles" or small square drawings."

I got totally hooked doing 2, then 3 then 4 a day. And my kids saw me doing them. And asked if they could try. And they got hooked too.

I've always wanted to be a doodler - I love patterns, and mandalas and henna and paisley. I loved them, I wanted to do them... but I didn't know how to start... I kept doing the same again and again. This book has been a wonderful step by step guide and teacher - I am really chuffed with what I have achieved in just two weeks. And have a new passion - and am excited about taking it in new directions in my own art....

And I find it so soothing and therapeutic to do. Like meditation - but I get great art to keep at the end. Win-win.

I'm aware that Zentangling is a bit passe for US readers, but it's totally new to me here in the time warp of Ireland. I'm thinking of getting a copy for the two doodling women in my life. So that's why I'm sharing it with y'all here. Are you a doodler? Do you Zentangle?  Got any great resources to share? I've got a new Pinterest board on them - but of course!


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