7p22.1

Chromosome 7

In the beginning was the Word

L, O, V, E

transcribed as A, C, G, T

adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine

Four nitrogen bases to compose a three-billion note sonata

A, C, G, T

the hue of her skin, her rosebud lip

heart fluttering on an ultrasound scan

A, C, G, T

the cosmic typewriter skips a beat

A T

G C

a microscopic pause

missense in the melody, an unexpected note

A, T, G, C

she dances to the music

dances to the beat of her own drum

she runs with open arms and heart into the world

our little love

L, O, V, E

A, C, G, T

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In the garden

There is joy in my garden this summer.

For a number of years it’s been a struggle against the enormous weeds that infiltrate the patio. Overgrown ivy weaving its way through the fence panels, tired decking slippy with leaf mould. A flowerbed that used to be a pond tangled with wild strawberries and dandelions.

The funny thing is, many of those difficulties remain – but we’ve created places to tend and nurture. I cut back the ivy, cleared the ‘pond’ and filled it with rocks and alpine plants. Resilient little clumps, they are weathering the hot, dry weather admirably.

We painted dilapidated fence panels in turquoise and blue which draw the eye to the bottom of the garden. I spent a satisfying afternoon with my father in law cutting up wood from the local sawmill and building raised beds. It’s been a family endeavour – driving around Devon with my husband and Little One to collect free topsoil and lugging rocks with Eldest.

Tending peas, courgettes, pumpkins and a runner bean plant is a gentle and soothing after school activity for Little One and I. Watering in the cool of the evening offers time to talk with Eldest.

It struck me that the inner life is a bit like my garden. We need spaces to rest, tend new growth and be fruitful. These help us to have the energy and impetus to tackle the weeds that can otherwise feel overwhelming: anxiety, work pressure, parenting challenges (to name but a few).

My plants need water and nourishment to produce a crop. My garden helps me to reflect on my own needs as I tend new growth in work life and life as a parent.

Bullet journalling

I have some new fluorescent gel pens, bought on impulse as a treat when shopping in Bruton with a girlfriend.

It turns out, they’re invaluable!

I came across the concept of a bullet journal, and wanted to personalise it to incorporate some of my learning about my mental health through occupational therapy.

At the beginning of a month, I brain-dump the things I’m aiming for in a bulleted list. Examples of mine are:

  • swim in the sea once a week
  • build some raised beds in the garden
  • organise crèche provision for a course I’m delivering

I try to keep the overarching aims to 1 page of my A5 journal. Then I circle the bullets with a colour in beautiful gel pen:

blue – work related

green – self care

yellow – my kids

pink – social time

pink heart shape – my husband & I

orange – house & garden

The colour code helps me to look at the balance of priorities, and to be really mindful of when there’s an over-emphasis on work at the expense of other areas!

Each weekday, I bullet my to-do list in the same way. I make sure to bullet self care time such as blogging, tea alone in a cafe, running, wild swimming. When there are naturally days with a swathe of blue work tasks, I’m reminded to book in the other aspects of life later in the week. I get to see where I’m putting blue circles in days they’re not needed, and here’s a very useful thing:

An X over the bullet means I did the task or activity

An > over the bullet means I just move it to another day

I’ve found this extremely liberating in comparison to a traditional to-do list where I can feel I’ve failed if it’s not all crossed out by the end of the day.

My bullet journalling helps me to prioritise and also to notice when my expectations of a day have been unrealistic. I really love that little > symbol…

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

 

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.