History into future

IMG_20170927_145209731

I made two skeins of t-shirt yarn today.  A task to do from home in my personal assistant role while my friend is away.  I save the fronts of the t-shirts for a blanket project my friend has in mind, and the backs are destined for crochet yarn.

There will be remembrance of history – a different time and space in life – in her blanket project.  There will be the creation of a new story in beautiful things made of t-shirt yarn.  I am grieving for this friend as she continues to endure a long and exhausting season of pain.  I am humbled by her ability to see a future of beauty.  I am encouraged by the vision she has to create new from old.

Images from ‘Big Hook Rag Crochet’ by Dedri Uys

It’s slow, mindful work producing t-shirt yarn.  The fabric is sliced almost to the top in equal sections.  Turn the fabric through 180 degrees, slice every section in half – stopping just before the top.  The corners of each section are rounded off, until a long single string of yarn emerges.  Wind the yarn gently around your hand into a skein.  I want to buy some beautiful brown paper luggage tags to label the yarn in length and width.

It’s slow work unravelling my history to make something beautiful for my future.  I’ll be pondering the lessons I could learn from t-shirt yarn.

 

 

Advertisements

Repair

IMG_20170728_132640767

I am intrigued by this quote. Little One and I found it today on a mosaic bench in the garden of the Thelma Hulbert gallery.

We had spent an unexpected, peaceful hour looking around the Evolver Prize exhibition and playing with oil pastels in the cafe.  It repairs something in me to take time to enter Little One’s sensory world.  Her favourite painting had row upon row of tiny details in watercolour – dogs, cats and birds hidden among the busy gardeners Emma Burleigh: The Ashley Vale Allotments

My drawing took on a familiar shape. Lines of blue-toned pastels forming an almost complete circle, arching back and wisping away.  This wave-like shape has appeared many times as I paint in the solace of psychiatric hospital art rooms. Repair. The same icon, a completely different space.

I still don’t see myself as an artist, perhaps a creative.  There is repair in the words I type, the inner journey I write about.

My favourite artwork was Donna Peek: In Search of the Divine State  Encased in each capsule of the oval pill-packet were miniscule Russian dolls.  In the opposite packet were icons of womanhood.  It made me think a lot.

Each day I press three different shaped tablets out of their blisters and into a pill dispenser.  There’s energetic Venlafaxine, somnolent Olanzapine and, moderating it all, Lamotrigine.  A lot of fine-tuning of life, work, screen-time and dosages is needed to keep things in a good state.  The “Divine State” was tempting all those years ago… but steady is better.  Steady allows for repair.

God of no gender

IMG_20170613_212814 (1)

You may find this post contains heresy and/or madness (depending on your perspective). Consider yourself warned…

So God created human beings in his own image.

    In the image of God he created them;

    male and female he created them.

Genesis 1: 27

I want to tell you about my psychosis.  Uniquely female, a psychosis triggered by pregnancy and childbirth.  It’s not unusual for people experiencing psychosis to have visions of the ends of the earth, and beliefs about their own messianic qualities.  Yet I know that my thought-processes during psychosis were wrapped around my growing struggle with the church and gender politics.  My beliefs were shaped by the visceral experience of giving birth and its powerful sense of womanhood.

What to the outsider looked like jumbled stream-of-consciousness had an intense sense of clarity for me.  Everything made sense.  I had it in my mind that as the end of the world drew near, God was seeking to bring the maleness and femaleness of himself back into unity in the world.  The beautiful (and of course to my loved ones terrifying) thing was that I would be the vessel, the girl-messiah who would bear the unbearable of losing my child and my husband.  I would be obedient even unto death.  I would submit, as the weekly-beaten doctrine of the past few years of church had instructed me.  And yet, in the submission there would be power.  Power to bring those in my life with terrible illnesses into their new bodies, into eternity, into the great Wedding Feast.  I even saw the feast, it was beautiful, and feminine, and filled with joyous reunions.  Everybody, everybody, everybody was there.  God, it was beautiful, I can’t really begin to express it. But it was not to be.

And yet… I probably shouldn’t get into a discourse here about what I perceive as the liminal space between psychosis and prophecy, madness and shamanism.  Maybe I will blog about it sometime in the future, but it feels too raw, too frightening in many ways.

What I can say is that after the long depression that followed my season of visions and dreams, I couldn’t stay in a church that sublimated women and did not allow them to preach, teach or be an Elder.  Nowadays I see all around me women becoming their True Selves through some truly unbelievable suffering.  I’m humbled to be the mother of two daughters who are unashamedly authentic, open and vulnerable.  May they celebrate their femininity, its strength and its power to bind up the brokenhearted.

The illustration at the top of this page was part of an art project in collaboration with Action on Postpartum Psychosis.  I love the Triumvirate somehow all wrapped up in the shape of a mother and baby.  I still believe the best is yet to come.

Be the kind of woman you want to be.  Regardless of doctrine.
 

Nourish

A beautiful friend pointed out to me that my balance of work at the moment is a winning combination for my personality!  I have space to explore my creativity through cooking & writing, there’s intellectual stimulation through being part of cutting-edge research applications, and I get periods of ‘extrovert time’ when I’m delivering training.

I’m nourished by all of these things.  I’m nourished by writing recipes, translating research into everyday language and working with my co-facilitator to plan engaging, supportive training.  I’m also continuing to learn to replenish my energy with time that’s just for me. Is it weird that I find watching an episode of Skins on the sofa in the daytime deeply relaxing? (Maybe it’s an attempt to prepare myself for the imminent teenage years for Eldest…)

Nashville: The Complete Soundtrack has been the accompaniment to my cooking today. Country music is so full of storytelling, and so melodic.  I love being able to join in with the harmonies while I slice vegetables and select spices.

Here are a couple of really simple soups from my growing collection

soup3

Roasted veg & brown lentil soup

  • 1/2 swede or celeriac
  • 3 carrots
  • 2 parsnips
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 jar passata
  • 500 ml vegetable stock
  • 150g brown lentils
  1. Chop all the root vegetables into small-medium sized chunks
  2. Roast with the olive oil, maple syrup and wholegrain mustard for 30 mins at 180c
  3. Meanwhile, simmer the lentils in the passata and stock
  4. Add the root vegetables to the lentils & passata and simmer for a further 10-20 mins

 

Red pepper, carrot and red lentil soup

  • 4 carrots
  • 4 red peppers
  • 250g red lentils
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1200-1500ml vegetable stock, depending on how thick you like the soup
  1. Fry the garlic and fennel seeds in olive oil for 2-3 mins
  2. Add the red peppers and carrots, cut into medium sized chunks
  3. Add the lentils, oregano and stock
  4. Season
  5. Simmer for 30-40 mins
  6. Blend