Say hello to my little friend, Sally. She’s a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. A gentle sweetheart who loves nothing more than to crawl on to my lap for cuddles and love.
I have just returned from a trip to Egypt that I’d like to share with you. I don’t think I can fit everything into one post simply because there was such much to the journey and I don’t want to put you to sleep. So I’m going to simply share my favourite spots and perhaps come back to add to it another time.
This is what the self-critic says when I am scribbling in my little notebook. ‘Only writers write and you aren’t a writer’ and yet it’s all I can think about, it’s what I feel I have to do.
So don’t write. Except, except – words flow, ideas, thoughts, little stories. They wake me in the wee small hours and urge me not to go back to sleep but to get up and write them down. Sometimes when I’m really tired I try to ignore them and say I’ll do it in the morning but when that happens I can’t recall them so I know now to get up and do it there and then. Sitting on the top of the stairs with a notebook so I don’t wake anyone else up
When I look later I’ll have written a few key words and from them more thoughts and musings appear. This is when I spend the time crafting it, expanding on it.
I’ve always felt that I wasn’t supposed to write. When I was ten we had to write a poem for homework. I remember that I spent ages getting it just right, getting the words to rhyme. I don’t remember any of the lines except that it was a poem about butterflies.
I was so pleased with my work until my teacher told me he didn’t believe I’d made it up myself, he said it was too good. He called in another teacher and the headmaster and all three of them agreed that I must have taken it from a book, they couldn’t remember who had written it but it couldn’t have been written by me.
Imagine the small child sitting at a desk while three big grown men loom over her, all of them trying to get her to admit that she was lying when she knew she absolutely wasn’t. I think what made it worse was that it was eventually put it up on the wall of the classroom but they were still insisting that I had plagiarised it, which definitely took the shine off it.
So even though I still loved books and reading I never wrote anything as I didn’t think that I could. I think it was this, and similar incidents that lead me to feeling that school wasn’t for me. So I left at age 14 with no qualifications.
I returned to Adult Education a few years later and was so excited to be back at school. I wasn’t the most popular when I asked for homework and was told to write an essay on any topic. The poor tutor had to wade through a 300 word essay with no structure, there were no paragraphs, sentences went on forever and hardly any punctuation but I was oh so pleased with myself.
A year or so later I undertook an O Level in English Literature and I really learnt how to read and enjoy poetry and novels. I learnt how to write essays and assignments and to enjoy the process of writing and editing and rewriting.
I learnt to read not just the words but to see how the author had crafted those words, the images they were trying to conjure up. I read everything and anything – fiction, non-fiction, even the back of a cereal packet.
I read because books are a great escape, they will bring you into another world. Sometimes we have to have some space and time out of our own heads and a book can do that for you. There is nothing better than a rainy day, a roaring fire, a cup of coffee and a cosy blanket as you snuggle up with a good book.
So maybe I’m not a writer and maybe there isn’t anyone out there who wants to read what I write but the words are coming and they want expression through me so I have no choice but to put my little musings on paper (or computer) and let them out.
The thing with finding you are in the middle of a depressive episode is you can’t work out how it happened, again. You are actually surprised, how did it happen without you noticing it? Except that the signs are all there and you ignored them.
Depression is a bit like an avalanche, a massive, big event, and how the hell can you not notice an avalanche?
Except that an avalanche starts with just a snowfall, beautiful and bright. That’s you too right now, feeling that all is well, walking through the world, beautiful and bright. That snowfall is joined by other snowfalls – all is still well, except that the first snowfall is feeling somewhat restricted under the weight of all the other snowfalls.
You are fine, you are coping, doing all the self-care things that you know work for you. Except that you aren’t, you’ve started to skip a few here and there because you feel so much better.
You skip a walk in the park one lunch time and before you know it you aren’t going for a walk anymore. You find yourself rushing in the mornings so you start to skip breakfast and because you don’t have time to make a lunch you end up buying something quickly from a local deli. Under pressure in work to complete tasks, which you are procrastinating about, you end up staying later and later – you haven’t time to cook a nice meal with fresh food when you get in.
You are so very tired but go to bed and can’t sleep. Your mind reminding you of all the mistakes and errors you have made that day. You eventually drift off and then wake as if you haven’t slept at all, exhausted before the day has even begun, clinging to the bed until the last possible moment – finding that you are constantly in a rush.
You think about calling a friend except you always think that it’s a bad time and they might be busy. You start to ignore calls or emails from them – especially if they are trying to call to meet up for coffee or dinner, because you just don’t fancy going out right now.
Your inner world starts to constrict and then the ruminations begin. The voices that tell you that you are not good enough, that you can’t compete with other people, that they all have their lives together and you must be mad, bad or stupid and therefore of no use to anyone.
Eventually there it is, that one small little snowfall, hardly a few flakes at all really, but that one final flurry is all it can take to bring down a mountain.
One teeny crisis, one additional stressor in work or the home and you start to crumble. You look around and realise that you have collapsed but didn’t notice the danger you were in. You are smothered by all that snow, desperate, gasping for breath, unable to climb up or get out.
Still in shock … how did that happen?
“We’re all just walking each other home”, Ram Dass
All of us are on a journey through this life. For some the path is smooth and for some it is very rocky and uneven. Often we hit cul-de-sacs and stay there for a while. Sometimes it appears that we have retraced our steps again and again, or are going around in circles.
We are all just walking together, on parallel paths, and those paths can converge and we bump into each other. Sometimes they converge for just a moment, perhaps when we give a brief smile or hello to a stranger. We can have no idea that this might have been such an important event, that they, or we, needed that contact to help each other at just that time.
So I just thought I’d share a little about sculpture and stone and why I like it.
I love stone. It fascinates me. I love to pick them up and feel them turn from cold to hot in my hand. I am in awe of these little stones. Stones that were once enormous boulders wore down by wind and rain and sea. Tumbled and tossed around by nature until it is as small as a tiny grain of sand.
Each stone contains millions of years of history in it, the tiniest pebble holds so many memories. I love finding stones like this one, it caught my eye because it was so unusual, two separate stones melded together.
We all know exercise is good for us, right. We have been told myriads of times how much benefit it is to us.
It is good for our physical health, keeps us feeling younger as we all get older and we have become much too sedentary in our lifestyles. It is good for our emotional and mental health. Much as you hate to agree with someone who suggests this to you – you do always feel better after you’ve managed to get outside for a walk with the dog or attended a yoga class.