Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Digital Rest

I spend a lot of time online.  Too much.  Its quite hard to do anything else when you are confined to the bed or the sofa so much, as I have been for the last few months.  Its that or the telly, especially when I find I can't read because my brain can't accept a page of text.

While visiting my mother the other weekend, having no internet connection whilst we were there meant that although I had taken my laptop with me (ostensibly to work), I didn't even open it once.  My husband and I both came home feeling rested.  I felt a clarity that I had not had before, a feeling of knowing who I am that comes from being inside myself, grounded in myself, rather than being in my head, or worse, out there flying about in the digital either.  I'm an air sign so I really struggle with being present instead of going off in my head, making up stories or worrying about things that might never happen.  Slogging all day on Tumblr or various blogs doesn't help.  It just makes me feel inadequate and dissatisfied.

This the the time of year ruled by the element of Earth, a time for grounding and being present inside oneself. Despite being a writer, I'm feeling the increasing need to avoid my laptop.  Any time I spend online makes me feel a bit sick afterwards, as if I've done something disgusting that I'm ashamed of.  If I spend a day without looking at my computer I feel relaxed and productive.   And I actually get stuff done!

I'm going to start treating myself to long stretches of time during the day when I don't go online.  Maybe even have days when I don't check my email or facebook altogether.  The idea feels good.  Optimistic.  Self-caring.

What would your life look like if you had a few digital-free days occasionally?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Dormant or Transitional?

Contemplative moment on Climping Beach, West Sussex, during a calming stay with friends.

This blog has been quiet for quite a while, because I'm not sure where I'm going with it.  In fact, I'm not sure where I'm going, period. 

I'm living through a changing season right now, a transitional time.  Big stuff is happening in my life.  Aging parents, changing work patterns, new health issues, new attitudes, new priorities.

In a few weeks I shall turn 45.  My life and my soul have changed in ways I could never have imagined when I went through the trauma of turning 40.  I always thought my 40s would be my best period, and they are.  But often, things are tough.  Change is never easy, but it is what it is.

Long term planning is now becoming a priority.  So is cutting the crap away.  Being genuinely myself.  Living my dreams instead of continually talking about them and being too scared to do anything about them.  Allowing myself to be creative every day.  Getting out of my own way.

These are all big things, and they take a lot of energy.  Thats how change is.

In two days I am off for a holiday on a Scottish island.  It will be a time of rest and reflection.  I hope it will give me and my husband a break, but also some perspective.  I hope it will offer a time when I can work out where I am going for the next three months, six months, a year, a lifetime. Most of all, I hope I will find some peace there.  And when I come back, there will be lots of pictures to share, and no doubt articles to write for this this blog about the experience.

So stick with me.  Great things will come out of this change, I promise.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Monday Morning Meditation

Picture of Angela's work room by Nester
Its been a tough couple of months, but I am spending today getting my head together, catching up with myself and the house, grounding.  I was pottering about on the internet as I usually do first thing, while I take my homeopathic remedies and lie in bed, waiting for my body to stop hurting (sorry, a bit victimy there, but its true), and I found this wonderful article by one of my fave bloggers, Nester.  Not only are the photos of this wonderful home totally inspiring, and green-inducing lets be honest, the post contained a quote that I've seen often, but never seen bettered.  I love it, and it spoke to me today in a new way.  So here it is, repeated for your delectification and inspiration.  Thank you Nester and Angela:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
–Marianne Williamson

Monday, 6 August 2012

Turning Point

“The day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”
Anais Nin

I can't do this anymore.  I know I've said this a thousand times, but I can't. 
I need to get my life moving again. 
I am riven with anxiety and I need to let it go. 
I am tense as a board.  I need to move my body.
My guts and my skin are a mess. I need to eat in a way that is respectful and energising to my body.
I need to be writing again.  Gods, I need this sooo much.
I need to set boundaries.  In my mind and in my life.  Give myself space to be me. 
I need to learn to manage the commitments I do have to make in a healthier way.
Right now, I hurt all over.  I am angry and resentful.  I am so exhausted I can barely concentrate on the next word, never mind the next sentence.
A friend emailed me this morning.  She said 'I am drinking lots of veggie juices, taking superfood power, napping every afternoon, and I feel much better.'  And I thought: 'Can you send me your programme please, because thats just what I need too.'
I've been through a lot in the last month, emotionally and physically.  A real Dark Night of the Soul.  I need a break.  A big one.  Its time to give myself that gift.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Self Care

Quoted from Jennifer Louden's excellent book 'The Life Organiser:  A Woman's Guide to a Mindful Year', New World Library 2007.  I urge you to buy this book and use it.

Monday, 9 July 2012

In Memoriam
Peter Reginald Dimmer
6th March 1929
9th July 2011

Beloved stepfather and wise friend.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Iain Banks needs Bigger Trousers

Picture from here
Yes, that is a bit of an odd title, but I really mean it.  Its about idols having clay feet.  Let me explain:

I went to see Iain Banks speaking about his new book, Stonemouth, at the UEA Literary Festival a couple of nights ago.  Now, if you have been reading this blog since its inception, you will know that I am an avid Iain Banks fan.  I adore him.  I have a picture of him as wallpaper on my phone.  Seriously (yes, I know I should have grown out of that, but who does?). 

The thing is, I sat there and listened to him read on Tuesday night, and thought - well, frankly I didn't think anything.  The bit he read from the novel was some dialog from a wedding scene.  It was mildly amusing.  I think he thought it was more amusing than we as listeners did.  But it wasn't anything dazzling.  And he only read once.  Then he talked.  And talked.  And talked.  Most of it was his usual schtick.  I'd heard it before because I've been to see him quite a few times.  He said a couple of things that I thought, 'Ooo, I want to hear more about your opinion on that, its really interesting,' but I quickly forgot what these pearls of wisdom were because all the schtick got in the way and fuddled my brain.

I came out feeling rather disappointed and the only impression I could really summon up was that he needed to accept that the size of jeans he has been wearing since he was twenty are really too small for a man of 58, no matter how slim he is.  Your body changes, Iain.  I don't want to sit there and look at just how much. Its distracting, mate.  In fact, its positively anatomical.  Which is a bit sad, considering he is viewed, on the basis of 'The Wasp Factory' and 'The Crow Road', as being one of this nation's greatest novelists.

Unable to shake the disappointment, I went back his work.  I've read pretty much all of them, though I couldn't get on with the sci-fi stuff - its too 'teenage boy' for me.  At the time I read it, I really liked it.  It inspired me.  Who couldn't love a novel that begins with the line:

It was the day my grandmother exploded.

I always thought 'The Crow Road' was one of those novels I would carry with me till I die, reading over and over again.  Now I look at it and think, 'meh'.

Is it possible to grow out of a novelist? I suppose I grew out of Jean Plaidy and Tom Clancy.  I can't believe I have grown out of Banksie.  I find myself craving more complex prose.  Something more poetic.  Less sensationalist.  I didn't come out of that session at UEA feeling inspired the way I did after I saw AL Kennedy or Jeanette Winterson, only a couple of months ago.  And I want to be inspired now. 

It isn't Banksie that has changed.  He won't change - you can tell that from his trousers.  Its me.

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Press the RESET Button

Leek and Potato Soup (Image from Here)
Usually I have a good idea what I am going to say when I write a blog post, but not today, and there is a reason for that.

I've had a cold.

Not your average, runny nose, Nightnurse-doseable kinda cold.  No, this has been like swimming through soup.  Not a nice, clear consomme either.  We are talking leek and potato here.  I've been so ill, I've barely got out of bed for a week and that, even for me, is pretty extreme. I've still got a fruity cough, and a raspy voice so deep I could hire myself out to voice-over action movie trailers, but I think I'm over the worst now.

Being me, I like to look on the bright side however.  And there is a bright side, not least that I actually survived the bloody thing which, at one point, I was seriously praying that I wouldn't!  My brain has turned to porridge, I'm completely disoriented, and I have no idea where I am, not geographically but psychologically.  And part of the recovery process is exactly that - recovering myself.  I've been floating in a sea of greeny-grey guck, blind and deaf to anything but pure 'getting through'.

I've got a few days of silence to come over the Easter period, and being a bit more compos mentis, I feel like I can use the time in a constructive way to ground myself once more in where I am and where I want to be.  Something of a retreat, really.

Sometimes, life forces you to press the RESET button, makes you stop and go back to somewhere near the start, remember who you are and what you want.  And while I would rather not have the hacking cough, I think I'm rather glad to have the RESET button, because it's always good to do a little grounding now and again.

(There, something coherent came out in the wash.  I knew it would.)

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Good Day, Bad Day.

Yesterday started off really well. No, wonderfully, actually.  I found out that one of my stories posted on had received over 46,000 hits!  I mean, 46,000!  Thats half Wembly stadium!

I was like that ball thing that Will Smith lets loose by accident in 'Men In Black', the one that pings and bounces around the lab at a million miles an hour!  All day I kept catching myself saying '46,000 readers!'.

Lots of other good things happened too.  It was beautifully sunny.  The new digibox was delivered, and its great.  I was well enough to drive myself into Norwich to my counselling appointment, and even do a bit of shopping.  I was so happy.

Then I came home and checked my email.  There was a cruel one from someone close to me.  This person has hurt me badly.  I don't know why.  I tried not to let it spoil my day.  Pat took me out to the pub to celebrate.  I didn't feel much like celebrating, even though I felt like all my hard work has finally begun to pay off, and I can hold my head high among other writers at last.  I don't have to apologise for being myself anymore.  Except to this one person.  I know I shouldn't allow them to get to me.  Partly, it is because I don't know why they are behaving in this way because they won't tell me.  And partly, it is because I just want to be loved - don't we all?

And then I heard the Universe speak.

I was flipping through last weekend's Telegraph magazine and I found this quote from Armistead Maupin:

"My life is full of love; I designed it that way.  I try to make my own experience about love and I look for kindness and tenderness in others...That's the thing I value the most: it will get you through everything."

I can't stop this person behaving cruelly to me.  But I can choose the way I respond.  I can choose to believe the 46,000 readers, and not the one email correspondent.  I can design a life that is full of love.

You might also like to read this from Keri Smith.

Wednesday, 7 March 2012


snow geese in flight
This morning I dropped Pat off at the bus stop in the village, and as I was driving back, I saw a skein of geese crossing the sky.  I was on the farm track, so I pulled over and watched.  They were flying in a 'v' shape that undulated and shimmered.  Sometimes they would disappear into the grey sky as they changed direction slightly, and the white tips of their wings showed.  They would jumble up and reorganise.  And flap doggedly on.  They've come so far.  I can't believe they are finally here.  It means Spring is coming.  There is a primrose out in the front garden, and the japonica is covered in fat, blood-red buds.  The world is coming alive again.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My Nieces Love Me!

Yes, I have two wonderful nieces who are not only very talented, but also know and understand me exceptionally well.  Which is presumably why this morning in the post, these arrived:

Amigurumi John and Sherlock by Phoebe Grassby
Made by my nimble fingered niece, Phoebe, here are John and Sherlock, amigurumi style.  I love the way they are wearing little handcuffs, as in the last episode of Season Two - sniff!  You can buy Phoebe's patterns at her Etsy shop here.

And Phoebe's twin sister Amelia is also creative.  And knows me worryingly well.  This is what she sent me for Christmas:
Handmade Benny Calendar by Amelia Wray
 Yes, she made it herself.  It must have taken her ages to write out all the days and draw all those lines, and they are HAND done, no computing here, thank you.

And this is my birthday month.   Of course, what else?

Handmade Benny Calendar by Amelia Wray

Thank you my darlings, you make me feel so wonderful! 

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Thirty Years

My Parents Wedding, September 1956
My dad died thirty years ago today.  Most people only get one dad, but I've been lucky enough to have two wonderful ones, and I am remembering them both today with smiles.

My mother and I with my 'Wicked' stepfather, Peter

Thursday, 2 February 2012

It came in the post today!

Just when you figure life is full of lemons, (even if they are travelling lemons), something like this happens.  This morning I was half way through today's writing - just over 3.300 words and still counting -  when this turned up on the post:
'Go Away I'm writing' bag by What The Dickens
How good is that, guys?  Many thanks to my splendiferous friend Sara for thinking of me. xxx

Oh, and a note to Claudina: I tried to take a photo of the spangley sequin mini skirt so I could show you, because as you say, it is very jolly, but the sequins are black, and it didn't come out.  So you'll just have to imagine me in a black, spangley, and very jolly sequin mini skirt.  Sorry.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Clear Blue View

I'm going to talk about something people don't usually mention.

I'm 44 years old and I'm three weeks late.

Yep, not good.

So last night, my husband and I had 'The Talk'.  The one where we hunker down and go through the ramifications of what we are going to do IF.  Even though we both know there is no IF, because rationally, for reasons I shall not go into for fear of making you, and him, blush, it just ain't possible.  But the fact remains that I am late.  And three weeks for me is a seriously big deal.  You are talking to the woman who, throughout her twenties, could time her periods by her watch.  Every fourth Thursday, 10am.  Clockwork.  Even when I was anorexic.  Never missed a bloody one, even when I was six and a half stone.  Never had a scare that was any longer than four days.  Never.

And then we went down to the 24 hour supermarket and bought a pregnancy test.

(Which would have been fine if we hadn't bumped into an old acquaintence at the checkout, and believe you me, when you are 44 and 3 weeks late, you don't want to be caught with a Clearview pack at 8pm in Tesco by someone you haven't seen in 10 years, and who has a basket full of Johnsons baby wipes because they've just had their THIRD!)

And then did the three minutes of sweating and waiting for the test to prove NEGATIVE, just as we knew it would.

And then we were both sad.

Not that we in any way regret the choice of being childfree that life has dealt us.  I know that being a mother is just not right for me, not simply because of my health, but because of my temperament.  I don't have the patience or the interest, and I am terrified of schools.  But still.  It might have been my last chance.  And thats a very miserable thought.

So now I am 44 years old and 3 weeks late and definitely NOT pregnant (but mourning very slightly).  Which can only mean one thing:


And believe me, I am just not, in any way, shape or form, ready for that.  I dye my hair, for Gods' sake.  I am in total denial of my wrinkles and age spots, and the fact that I can remember the Winter of Discontent and the drought of 1976.  I just bought a sequinned mini skirt!  This can't be happening!  Pregnancy would have been a picnic by comparison! (And before you go wondering about my health and all the other things that could make me miss, let me put your mind at rest.  I'm pretty sure that it can't be something nasty in that particular woodshed because menopause comes pretty early amongst the women in my family.  But I will get it checked, just to put your mind at ease.)  So here I am, curled up on the sofa, waiting for Mr Flow to come to town, and having a mid-life crisis. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Sherlock Holmes died last Sunday night.  Yes, I know it was all a fix and he'll be coming back, but his poor Watson doesn't know that, does he?

The most poignant moment of the programme for me was right at the end.  John stood over Sherlock's grave and begged him for one last miracle.

'Stop being dead.  Just stop - this.'

Thats what we all want, when someone dies.

I can remember last summer, standing outside the church after my step-father's memorial service, talking to the lay preacher, a family friend who had helped lead the ceremony.  'I just want him back,' I sobbed.

For many years I have been having dreams about my father, who died when I was 13.  In my dreams, which are not the same every time, but share the same theme, my father comes back to our family home.  He is sullen and unhappy, won't say where he has been, or whether he is staying.  There is always the suggestion that he has been with another woman, another family, elsewhere.  And there is that fear that he will go away again.  But I am just so happy to have him back that I try not to care - I just want him back.  Next month it will be 30 years since he died, and I am still having these dreams.

My point is that when somebody dies, all we want is to have them back.  But if they came back, it wouldn't be the way we want it to be, all hearts and flowers.  Life isn't like that.  There are no Jesuses, or Holmeses, to return from the dead.  We are just left to get on with living without those we love as best we can. 

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The 'word' for 2012

All over the internet in the last 10 days, people have been talking about what their 'word' for 2012 is.  Courage?  Passion?  Experiment?  Embrace?  Everybody seems to have come up with a word that embodies their theme for the year, something they can keep coming back to, that guides the way they approach their life in the coming months and helps them to achieve their goals.

Last year, mine was 'self care'.  2011 was my 'year of self care', and the fact that I made it through 2011, with all its traumas, in one piece, says a lot for how self caring I have learnt to be.

But I have been wrestling with what I wanted for 2012.  Couldn't get my head around it.  (Probably not helped by this going round and round in my head!  You can imagine how distracting that would be.  But I digress...)

Then, this afternoon my counsellor/guru told me a question her old training course leader used to ask:

What would you do if you really loved yourself?

None of the usual pfaffing about. 

What do you need right now?  A danish?  Oh, yes, a great big danish pastry would be a really good idea, Rebecca, considering your IBS and wheat intolerance.  Yep, that sound really self-caring, that does.

Just think about that question for a minute.

Genius, isn't it?

So I'm not going to have a word this year, but a question.  A question I shall ask myself every morning when I get up.  And I hope that it will change the way I live, and make my dreams come true.  Or at least mean I take better care of myself and feel well a little more often.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

The evil that is the 'To Do List'

Every day since we got home from our annual Christmas visiting marathon, I've been assembling a To Do List so that I can plough through a) all the things that I should have got done before we went away, b) all the things that need doing because we've been away, and c) all the things I want to do because its New Year and I have all these daft ideas about  things I want to change, as everyone does around now.  Which is all well and good, but what I have of course not taken account of is that my body has just spent two weeks travelling, not sleeping, eating inappropriate food, being in constant motion, and processing continual language (old people talk A LOT).

Today, it all packed up.

Its been really hard for me to accept that I  just wasn't going to get anything done today.  To say 'stuff the To Do List!'

But the baubles are going to have to wait another day to be packed back into the box, and the bedding will have to wait another day to be washed.  I gave myself a face pack and went back to bed.  When I woke up, the sky was livid with the stripes of a winter sunset and the bedroom full of velvet shadows. And I thought:


Enough with the To Do list thing.  Give yourself a break, Rebecca.  Life is too short and too beautiful to be raging about whether you finished all the things on your list today.  You just have to live every day as it comes.