Before there was a tree

I have a new job, an incredible job full of possibility and hope for families suffering through perinatal mental illness. This poem is a reflection on another stage in my own healing.

oak

Before there was a tree,

or even the thought of a tree

there was dark, decay pressing down into the earth,

leaves disintegrating

only to release their final nourishment to the soil

there was the sleep of death, curled up, dormant

 

Before there was a tender shoot,

or even the thought of a tender shoot

there was a husk cracking

an unfurling – anaemic and fragile

searching for the light, spreading tiny roots

reaching for Spring

 

Now there is a sapling, the thought of a tree

the wind buffets the stem

the leaves are nourished by sun and April-shower

the soil enriched through loss

there is the beginning of a tree

 

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What if we rewrite the stars?

Easter is kind of a weird day when you don’t know what you believe anymore.

Hope wrestles with bitter disappointment.

The old simplicity is long gone.

A soundtrack of

Candi Statton, U2 and Nirvana all turned up too loud. Washed down with Prosecco.

I’m not sure it’s a fitting tribute, but it’s all I have today.

Unfulfilled hope of miracles,

Are you the Only Way, to hell with those born into another Way?

A wedding feast for the whitewashed proponents of Family Values?

No thanks if that’s the good news after all. Sorry.

Spring swim

jacobsladder

The first day after the clocks change.  Incredible stillness and light at Jacob’s Ladder.

I forgot my fleece rash vest.  I decide I don’t care.  Bikini & wetsuit boots – quite a look.

Fabulous, freeing, breathtaking water all to myself.

I stay until I start feeling the cold seep back into my core.

The air is warm enough to enjoy a towel down and a cup of tea in my dry robe.

To be still and enjoy the feeling of being awake, alive.

 

 

#missyou

A love letter in hashtags for Eldest.

Also a love letter to anyone parenting a teen.

#hugs from you are even more precious

when you’re feeling #grumpy

I do #missyou sometimes

and it’s ok if I seem a bit #needy

because when I lie on the end of your bed and we listen to music

(#Nashville of course)

#itsallgood

and all feels right with the world, because I’m needed too

#iloveyou

*The teenager print is from Etsy

Lagom

lagom

I am facilitating some training courses this month about balance and wellbeing.  It’s been fun making pie-charts in paper collage to reflect the ‘work, rest and play’ balance in our lives.  I decided to bring  mini Mars bars to reference the advertising slogan from the 1970’s! Most of us in the room even remembered the jingle…

Lagom is an interesting concept – which can influence everything from interior design to work-life balance to environmental activism.  A lovely friend bought me Linnea Dunne’s book on Lagom for Christmas and I’ve picked it up again today.

I’ve been weighing some things in my own personal balance scales – thinking carefully about maintaining my wellbeing and physical health as I take on more work within mental health.  I hope these might be helpful for others who need a little balancing out from time to time.  For each person the amount of different things we need in life will be unique, and changeable.  It’s worth taking time to figure out our own ‘just right’.

My balance scales

Emotionally demanding work <> Time doing practical activities

Time with friends <> Time to do things for my family

Busyness <> Wild swimming and exercise

Planning healthy meals <> Giving myself permission to eat for pleasure

Writing <> Housework!

Getting the balance right with my approach to food can be challenging.  Olanzapine is notorious for its impact on metabolism and risk of diabetes.  There’s a reason to minimise my weight gain.  But more often than not, the reason I want to lose weight is to look ‘better’

The Embrace You course has inspired and encouraged me to stop chasing a body that’s anything different from the one I have right now.  It’s a work in progress, but no dieting is one of the take home messages.  “If I want to eat the f*ing cookie my kid baked, I’m gonna eat the f*ing cookie my kid baked.” – Amanda de Cadenet

As I wandered through the Co-op today I picked up some sachets of 44-calorie miso soup for lunch.  My jeans have been uncomfortably digging in to my stomach the last few days.  I fell so easily back into the trap of fat=bad=diet.  With the words of Embrace You in my mind, I went back to the store half an hour later for chicken breast and vegetables.  Lunch in the end was a delicious, nutritionally balanced soup.

Embrace soup

  • 1 sachet miso paste
  • 4 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • 6 chestnut mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 inch ginger, cut into thin batons
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • Handful sugar snap peas
  • 2 slices thick cut chicken breast

Fry the spring onions, mushrooms, ginger and garlic in a little sesame oil until softened.  Add the sugar snap peas and chicken and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Add the miso paste and boiling water to cover.  Simmer for 1-2 minutes and serve in a deep bowl.

EmbraceYouB

 

 

 

Home

 

It’s been a rough couple of days with Little One.  All kinds of reasons, including the snow which we had all eagerly anticipated – yet completely unsettled her.  Snow is a very rare thing in Devon… My rosy image of a family snow-day met with the reality of both of us parents trying to squeeze in working from home while helping Little One understand a totally unpredictable day.  There have been a lot of tantrums.

A moment of joy teaching Eldest to snowboard in the park was cut short by the embarrassment of Little One lying on her back in the snow screaming because it wasn’t her turn.

Tonight I needed to revisit my Sigur Ros Heima DVD.  I needed the bittersweet harmonies and the simple beauty of four musicians totally in step with one another.

Memories flood in when I watch Heima.  Summer 2008 at Greenbelt open-air cinema,  Eldest asleep in a warm bundle of blankets on my knee.  Brandy hot chocolate, and fresh doughnuts as we watched the Icelandic community come together through music.  Feeling overwhelmed with love as I cradled my daughter and rested in my husband’s arms.

Still raw from leaving the church, yet feeling flutters of hope that something like Heima (‘Home’ in English) was what Church could look like outside the walls.  The scene filmed at Gamla Borg  still makes me cry – the simplicity of young and old gathered to share food and be immersed in music.

Kintsukoroi

kintsukori

Most of the time I feel like a piece of pottery repaired with gold;

breakage and repair as part of my history, not something to disguise.

Beautiful possibility written in the cracks.

Yet still on occasion those days come

when my cracks just feel like cracks.

Flaws, vulnerability.

I doubt my potential to support people in seeing the possibility of beauty

in their broken places.

kintsugi

I recently bought myself this necklace from Etsy as a reminder of the cracks, the beauty and the fragility.  All of these things are true about me, all of these things are OK.

The name of the necklace – senbonzakura – means “A thousand cherry trees”

I really like the image of a cherry tree, fragrant blossoms drifting in the wind.

 

On grief and gratitude

grief_gratitude

Image from Grief to Gratitude blog

To Little One

It was your 7th birthday last month. Facebook popped up a picture of you, 2 years old in your yellow corduroy party dress (you might not even know what Facebook was if you read this in the future). You had a little sprout of hair tied up in a hair bobble. Even then your fringe liked to fall in your face! Your blue eyes were as beautiful and expressive then as they are today.

I hope you are able to read Mummy’s blog in the future. I know you get cross sometimes when words are so hard they make your brain hurt. I promise we will keep playing musical bumps with your word cards, and laser tag – remember how you love dancing to Minions music and the Trolls soundtrack? We are so proud of how hard you try and how much you love it when we read poems and stories to you.

You had a pizza making birthday party last month – do you remember? You and your friends loved squeezing the pizza dough and rolling it into big ropes to bash on the table! There’s a pang of sadness sometimes that we don’t have pictures of your first birthday party – because we didn’t have one. I’m sorry. Mummy was still so very poorly. I’d love to have made you a cake with chocolate buttons and one pink candle to blow out. But now I get to make you Rapunzel cakes, and rainbow meringue cakes (your big sister is very good at those unicorn poop meringues isn’t she?)

Almost every night-time, Daddy and I pop into your bedroom before we go to bed. You sleep so beautifully! Did you know, sometimes you pucker up your lips in your sleep – just like you are feeding from mummy, or from your bottle. I really missed feeding you when I had to go to hospital. I love it when you lay in my arms even now you’re 7, just to pretend that you’re a baby again.

You love to carry your baby doll in the sling we bought you for your birthday – do you remember it? Grandma and Grandad bought you a talking baby doll who giggles and sounds like she’s saying your name sometimes. She looks so snug when you hold her on your chest. You’ve always loved pretending to be a mummy. You kiss and cuddle your baby dolls and you talk to them in a soft sing-song voice. I love to watch you play ‘babies’ – because I think maybe you learned how to be a really good mummy from me, even though I was poorly for a very long time. That makes me feel very grateful.

You love your new baby cousin Maisie so much. I wonder if you’ll have a chance to feed her some mashed up pear in the holidays? I know you’re very excited about that. Sometimes I have an aching heart, hoping for a lovely person for you to be a parent with in the future. It might be harder to meet a special person when you have learning difficulties… but we’ll find a way. Daddy and I think we might like to be called Pops and Nanna if we are grandparents when we are older. Won’t that be funny!?

Little One, our hopes and dreams for you remain the same. That you know you are deeply loved, that you find fun and purpose in your life, that you have people to support you through sorrow and joy. Love you forever.

xxx

The One with The List

Spoiler alert: this probably has something to do with Jung

So, all ten seasons of Friends are on Netflix.  Eldest has been seriously binge-watching and we’ve caught a few episodes of 90’s nostalgia with her.

Friends-photo

For some reason, my brain was having an absolute party last night while I was trying to get to sleep.  I thought it might be fun to imagine my thoughts as the different characters from Friends.  Unfortunately this succeeded in keeping me a little more awake thinking about writing a blog… but it made me chuckle.  If I knew more about Jung I’d probably be able to identify my Ego and host of unconscious others.  But here is a glimpse into my brain anyway through the medium of Friends.

Cast (and their raison d’etre)

Monica: attention to detail

Ross: self-pity

Joey: various appetites

Rachel: pick me! me, me, me

Phoebe: wild swimming and thinking about mythical creatures

Chandler: criticism and sarcasm

Episode 3: The One with The List

It’s 1:00 am and the Friends are gathered in Monica’s apartment.  They are trying to settle down for the night.  Rachel has her duvet and pillow on the sofa, Joey is resting his head in Phoebe’s lap and Monica, Ross and Chandler are drinking cocoa at the table.

Monica: I know what we could do, seeing as we’re awake anyway – let’s make a list, a list would be really helpful for figuring out what we need to do for our training courses in six weeks’ time!

Rachel: Seriously, Mon? Some of us are trying to get some beauty sleep here

Monica: But once we’ve made the list I’m sure we’ll all feel much better, and maybe we’ll be more sleepy too!  We’ll have made sure we don’t forget anything… Or… we could clean the kitchen?

Chandler (imitates Monica sarcastically): “Tidy house, tidy mind”

Rachel (smooths her pillow): I don’t know about you guys, but I’m not moving from this spot

Phoebe: Ooh, I wonder what swimming spot will be best tomorrow?

All: Phoebs!!

Ross: I seriously don’t know if I’m going to be swimming tomorrow… my back is so tight.  There’s no way I’m sleeping while my muscles are so tenses.  Hey Phoebs, can you come over and just massage right into my neck there?

Monica: This is getting us nowhere, I really think we should just go back to the list

Joey: Isn’t anyone else hungry? I really need pizza! Come on, guys, we’ve been awake so long since dinner time! Now Monica, there’s a list you can make – our pizza order (smiles cheekily)

Rachel (jabs her finger): Right that’s it you guys! I’m going to my own room with my soft sheets and my double duvet and I’d better not hear any more bickering from you.

All: Night Rach

Rachel brushes her hair in the mirror, shoves a pair of ear plugs in and feigns sleep

Chandler: Yeah right, like we’re gonna miss throwing a kitchen party without Rach!

Monica rolls her eyes and gets out a pen and paper