Life through a polarizing lens,
Darkness, darker. Deeper
Pulling me under the water
Colour (and some may say)
Sunset full of the Spirit’s kiss
The clouds portent
Perhaps a storm is coming
This poem is something of a meditation on the diagnostic label versus the experience of bipolar disorder (if in fact that’s a thing)
Today I choose
Rock shoes, bikini and towel
Down jacket ready to shield me from the wind
Pack a bag, set my mind to it
Choose to awaken the senses
Watch the waves in their sets of three
Feel the stones tumbling in the breakers
Push out beyond
A perfect few minutes in the wild
Peace beyond the crashing shoreline
Rise up on a wave
Scramble back to shore
Choose to feel alive again
Eldest and I had a wonderful day together today. It’s quite rare that we get some ‘grown up’ girl time so we made the most of the sunshine and the city. We browsed John Lewis trying out fragrances, admired bags in Topshop, New Look, Cath Kidston and H&M and then Eldest had a splurge at Primark. At Lush we had a chance to make our own bath bomb with cocoa butter, vanilla and ylang-ylang. Fresh, zingy pickled ginger and cucumber maki rolls at Yo! Sushi finished off a day of really treating ourselves.
As we headed around the city, we wrote phrases from the walls and windows of shops and lyrics from songs we heard to help us write ‘found poems’ when we got home. Here are our two found poems celebrating a sunny mother & daughter day.
Greetings from the land of summer!
Open up this box to find a collection of treats
A coffee crafted just for you
Strawberry and cranberry smoothie
Fig and cassis eau de parfum
Dust off your highest hopes –
Create your perfect day
Beautiful beginnings –
Wake up to white!
The land of summer
Inviting you in
Blue sky, you filtered into my soul
Sunshine, you warmed my skin
Nature’s light touch bringing the trees into bud
The freedom of woodland for my girls
Delight in their blue eyes
Water rushing, sticks clutching
Blankets and books in the dappled shade
Roll away the stone from my heart
Let me meet you and clasp your hands in the garden
I won’t let go of hope
Your story follows deepest sorrow with unending joy
Let it be my story too
I believe it will be my story too
I’ve been part of two Easter services today. Standing around the bonfire, I looked out to see the clouds split and the sea giltter in return, just for a moment. This evening, a picture of a magnolia tree in flower reminded us that while life can feel cold and bleak summer will come.
My faith often feels like longing. Today I will rest in knowing that there are many seasons of life, but summer will indeed come.
60 minutes, 35 degree heat, 26 Hatha yoga poses. An incredible way to spend an hour.
Yes, I did sweat and I felt proud (I love the strapline ‘damn right I look hot’ from the This Girl Can campaign). This was an intense class with the determination, focus and relationship between you and your body only heightened by the heat. I surprised myself with both mental and physical suppleness and strength. The practice was a timely reminder that taking time out for me to be just with myself, deeply focused is a really good thing for my mental health.
My body image during the class also surprised me. I could see I was curvier and indeed jigglier than most of the more accomplished yogis in the studio, however it didn’t feel like it mattered. I felt beautiful and I felt strong, particularly through the skill and encouragement of the teacher leading the class. Despite the huge alterations that mood stabilising medication has caused to my body shape, I could appreciate a defined waist, leg muscles beginning to strengthen from my running. Deeper than that though, a growing confidence that I can try new things, hard things and succeed.
I was massively disappointed to find that there are no hot yoga classes closer than an hour and a half’s drive from home but I’m already planning how to build some Hatha yoga, on which Bikram (hot yoga) is based, into my weekly routine. UK friends – if you are ever anywhere near Truro go and try a class at Breathe.
I love the hope and longing encapsulated in Noah and The Whale’s First Days of Spring. With my own story in mind I love the song’s answer to the feeling that we all have one chance to f*** up our lives; Like a cut down tree, I will rise again
I’ll be bigger, and stronger than ever before.
The first day of Spring. Someone’s turned up the brightness on the colours today. Acid yellow daffodils, a slick of cobalt across the turquoise of the sea. Burnt sienna and bright orange on the back of the tiny crab we find in the rockpools. On days like this all feels right with the world, and the colour is turned up in my heart.
Eldest wrote this poem which sums up our day beautifully:
To feel the sand between my toes, and see the sea as it goes
Barnacles, anemones and sea snails plenty
A couple of ice cream cones empty
Little sisters having fun, playing in the golden sun
Driving home to see a fox, hiding in amongst the rocks
How I love going rockpooling
In the spirit of wabi-sabi I decided to really pay attention to transient and simple beauty today.
Eldest One calling me in to her room in a flurry of excitement because two daffodils had opened in her flower arrangement. The taste of maple syrup on little jewels of raspberry with crisp, fluffy pancakes. Little One proudly smiling as she gave me a card adorned with tissue paper flowers. The slowly disappearing heart shape traced into the milk and chocolate on my cappuccino.
While running along the quayside, I tried tuning out that internal voice which says I really need to stop now and to focus on the natural world around me. The first sprinkling of white blossom on a tree poking through the pedestrian bridge. Silvery ripples traced in the water behind a swan. Daisies just beginning to peep open in the grass. The feeling of the icy wind on my cheeks.
A very peaceful way to enjoy a run – maybe it is going to be an important part of my gap year after all.
Tulips are quietly fading in a vase on a shelf. Little One is being noisy and wobbling precariously on her chair, and I feel conscious of all the other people around us wanting to relax with their cups of tea. We’ve come to shelter from the cold and to share scones, cream, jam, tea and hot chocolate. I feel aware my heart’s not fully in it today.
You’re used to grey England Skies
Cloudy days, colder nights
And your heart’s not right
On the way home, I’m reminded of the Japanese concept of wabi-sabi, a kind of unique beauty of the imperfect and transient. The fading vase of tulips or the ‘grey England Skies’*
I was thinking how this concept could help me to appreciate moments of imperfect beauty more. Reading the more detailed description of a wabi-sabi approach to life and aesthetics I was really interested to find out that ‘wabi’ used to be associated with sadness and loneliness, and ‘sabi’ with desolation but the meanings are now transformed to a way of looking at life which accepts transience and looks for beauty in the faded.
In my gap year there are going to be moments of pleasure and beauty which are inherently transient. I want to really live in those moments rather than grieving their passing. In myself I feel I need to look for the deeper beauty in a life that has felt weathered and eroded by mental illness. I still need to learn more about appreciating moments of joy amidst the challenges of parenting a Little One with learning difficulties. I’m planning to go back to the Welcome Cafe and contemplate those tulips some more, maybe with a notepad and my camera phone.
*Lyrics from England Skies by Shake Shake Go