New Directions – 28

Anemone1

“THE SIMPLE ACT OF SWIMMING ONE STROKE AT A TIME”

Not sure which had the most impact – this morning’s thunderstorm or my second trip to the Auchrannie pool since I began to recover.

I think the swimming pool…..

Nature has been generous with us in the last 24 hours. I had a good view of the lovely orange Supermoon for about an hour last night and this morning a superb thundershower watered the flowers and cleared the air. So far thunderstorms on Arran in my experience have been somewhat more delicate than the one’s I experienced in Chicago days, but this one had impact nevertheless. Notice the birds going mad at the feeder, maybe there’s some vibes they pick up in  thunderstorms that make them hungry afterwards. Answers on a postcard please!

Swimming has always been part of my life and I have so missed it over the last couple of years. Admittedly today I had to give myself a good talking to, because it would have been easier to stay home and curl up than make the effort to go to the pool and swim for only a fraction of the time that I used to.

It was so worth it! Not only does my body feel the better for the movement in water, but my tendency to feel sorry for what I can’t do anymore is gone and I relish the hard won half hour that I did manage. Something to build on!

Yesterday I was in an utter panic about putting together some of my writings to send to the publisher, but today I’ve remembered this principle of one step at a time and everything becomes possible. So maybe the thunderstorm has cleared my fuddled brain as well and I’ll be munching seeds and peanuts with the best of the birds while I look around at the things I want to do and break them down in to small doable chunks.

Just when I make this decision I come across a wonderful gardening programme called “The A to Z of Gardening ” on BBC 2. Fits the idea perfectly of approaching things in small segments instead of trying to achieve it all at once.

On another topic entirely, my friend Fiona has written in her blog Scottish Island Mum about forgiveness and encountered a healthy debate about the nature of the beast. It has made me think that I believe that forgiveness is essential in our lives to help us let go of hurt, betrayal and anger and that if we don’t forgive wholeheartedly, it stays with US, and makes no difference to the other person. It has to be unconditional like the attached picture, otherwise it is taking energy from us that we need to move on and get over whatever has happened to us in the past. It’s one of the hardest things that we’re asked to do in our spiritual journey.

Forgiveness

Till next time…..

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New Directions

King's Cave Walk1

“ONE WOMAN’S HEATWAVE…….”

 I’ve just looked up the weather report for Sacramento at the weekend according to the local newspaper the “Sacramento Bee” and the reporter is talking about seasonal temperatures of 102 F ( that’s 38 to you centigrade fans). Meanwhile our papers are talking about a heatwave of 68 degrees Fahrenheit and I have to remind myself that in Sacramento we thought nothing of turning on the garden hose and playing in the “heat”.

Not that I’m complaining. Whatever the temperature, the reality is that it’s lovely to sit out in the garden, watch the flowers thriving and soak up some much needed Vitamin D. And the finches haven’t lost their appetite for the nuts and seeds in the feeder.

Tomorrow I’m going for my second swim session which I’m really looking forward to because I can move my body in ways that I can’t out of water and feel that I’m doing something towards gaining muscle mass and strength. Last week I went for the first time since I got ill and that was a tremendous boost to body and soul. Such simple pleasures.  And there’s time for a cappucino afterwards.

Just now I’m sitting in my lovely living room, which Alison has as usual left spic and span, not really HAVING to do anything, This means that writing is fluent and without pressure. Ive just received an email from Bloomsbury Publishers with samples of the book pages from Practical Weaving which is close to being published. I am sending in a book proposal to them in the next few days based on my writings of the past 30 years which tell the story that I’ve segmented in this blog.

In spite of the inevitable excitement, there’s a feeling of inevitability in all of this, in the sense that I am doing the work I should be doing and I am in the place I am meant to be. It makes every word a joy to put on paper as I sort, fix and add to what I’ve already done and a picture emerges of a me that I recognise and acknowledge.

One lovely story connected to writing concerns the book “Knitting with Handspun” which I self-published in the early eighties. Several of the patterns were based on traditional Arran Gansey Designs, including one which was given to me by Lawrence McBride who was an Arran herring fisherman up until the Second World War. I met Lawrence through his daughter Betty and you can read more about him and the pattern on the Arran Knitting Company website. When we published the first edition of the book, we nabbed anyone associated with the workshop, including my children, to model the sample sweaters. One person who worked with sorting fleece in the workshop was Betty and she was duly nabbed and photographed.

Now all these years later, she lives two doors down from me. To celebrate the national 40th anniversary of the concept of sheltered housing, our complex is producing a photobook with a page for each person showing what they  looked like 40 years ago and what they were doing. (I’m pictured in my best flowered hippy dress and in a more sedate recent photo). Imagine my surprise and pleasure when I heard that Betty was contributing her model photo and  for her “then” image and a bit about her work in my workshop. We haven’t seen much of each other over the years, but the connection has always been there.

Unfortunately I can’t show you a copy of her photo because I naively didn’t keep a copy of that first book and a second hand copy is out of my budget! So back to the drawing boards and than goodness for computers!

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New Directions -26

Red Admiral

“JUST AN ORDINARY SUNDAY”

No deadlines except for the morning insulin dose, time to read, weed and water the pots in the garden and spend time sitting out in the sunshine with a friend. Enough breeze to keep it from becoming too warm. Perfection.

Started the day with Take Ten,  ten minutes of meditation with Andy Puddicombe a former Buddhist monk who works with ordinary people. I first heard about him a few days ago on BBC’s Horizon programme “The Truth About Personality” which I wrote about a couple of days ago.

The website has a taster of ten days free of charge to experience the ideas first hand. I loved it. Apart from the fact that he has a voice you could listen to for hours, the ideas are familiar but simple and easy to follow.

I’ve written before about my formal Christian upbringing and how I do believe what Jesus had to say. I find no conflict with practicing meditation, in fact it only strengthens my belief that you have to stand aside in many situations and let God (by whichever name you know him/her) get on with the plan. I can’t think of a situation in my life when this has been a good strategy. The suffering comes when I get my knickers in a twist and won’t let go.

The house is gradually filling with the appetizing smell of bolognaise sauce with a bit of oregano from the pot/garden, underscoring the pleasure of ordinary things and simple actions. And for dessert, Scottish strawberries always a treat at this time of year with their zero air mile credentials.

More reading this evening and my current Sunday night favourites on telly, Countryfile and The White Queen, a nail biting dramatisation of Phillipa Gregory’s version of the personalities involved in the conflict known as the War of the Roses.

I’m beginning to think that the “ordinary” is like a cocoon in our lives where we can retreat to our comfort zone and attempt to understand the forces that swirl about us, until such time as we can go through the change into a butterfly and enter a new existence.

Speaking of that the Buddleia bush is full of potential purple flowers which I hope will attract butterflies. This always brings the memory of a Buddleia bush in our garden in Whiting Bay which on one occasion was absolutely FULL with red admirals in a stunning colour display.

Such a lot to look forward to.

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New Directions – 25

Journal1

“HOT CHILI, PEBBLES AND SLOW TIME”

The last couple of days I’ve lived  in “slow time”. The only appointment I’ve had was for my regular pedicure, so I am now sporting “Hot Chili” toe nails which are just the right colour for my slowly tanning skin. Luckily it hasn’t been too hot here – in fact the wind got too cool a while ago so I had to come in from the garden.

If I could be bothered making a list, there are lots of things I’ve done under “slow time” such as watch the Hampton Court Horticultural Show where I was most inspired by the designs for and by disabled people to make the most of what they were physically capable of. It’s certainly true that when we lose our mobility we find out how much access we lose, especially in public places. The adjustments are fairly simple, it just takes an awareness of what’s needed. A simple lightweight fold up beach chair makes it possible to go down to the sand, rather than sitting down and being unable to get up unaided. It’s so easy to give in to frustration about what can’t be done, but much better for the soul to work out what is possible.

If you had told me ten years ago that there would be a time when i wouldn’t weave any more, I would not have believed you. But that’s what happened. I lost the will to weave. I’m thankful that I had my book “Practical Weaving” to work on (which should be published soon). I gave away most of my “stash” to raise money for the Butteryfly Tree Project which provides mosquito nets and educational support to villages in Malawi.

Imagine my astonishment when I went to cover the Illustration Journal that I use for my friend Fiona’s Meditation through Writing course.(You can find more information about the next session of this online course on Scottish Island Mum by clicking through to Meditation through Writing) I’ve completed the first month and I cannot recommend it highly enough, especially since it is available online). However I digress.

We were asked to decorate the cover of our journal and as soon as I picked mine up I thought “this cover would make a perfect loom”. It is very firm cardboard with a black linen base and I worked out that I could wind the yarn round as illustrated and that would hold the yarns to make a pebble beach. It worked.

Journal 21

What’s more I had kept a small basket of yarn that I really didn’t want to give away so the weaving is made using handspun Finnish linen for the warp, with handspun hand dyed indigo wool, Handmaiden Yarn (made from seaweed, wool and silk, available from Purlescence .)

I used three strands of different yarns together to give depth of colour and different shading. To finish off I used 1 strand of sparkling Lurex throughout, which I’ve had for about 20 years, so now it’s found a home.

So – the weaver has reappeared in a very practical way and I have that tactile cover to look at everytime I open my journal.

“Slow Time” has turned out to be productive, creative and fulfilling as well as providing time for rest and recuperation.

I highly recommend it.

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To find out more about “Slow Time” check out Amazon for Waverly Fitzgerald.

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New Directions – 24

Ferry

“SOMETIMES I HATE THAT FERRY…..”

Yes, I know it’s not the ferry’s fault, but I really hate it when someone I love goes away on it, no matter how much I know that they’ll be back. Jill and girls left this afternoon after a wonderful visit when their affection for Arran deepened and we had such idyllic weather. Luckily a friend took us to the pier and we were able to go and enjoy a drink at Bilslands on the front and watch the boat leave with its precious cargo.

We had another summer day yesterday at Brodick Castle where the girls took part in a “Vile Victorians” afternoon. Fern summed it up beautifully when she announced that she liked it when you could do something interesting and learn at the same time.  Jill and I spent the time in the walled garden appreciating the wonderful flowers and I extended my walking skills to climb the path back up to the castle. No mean feat I can assure you!

Mum & Jill

Jill & Mum at Brodick Castle

A wee diversion to Pooch Boutique at Cladach where Grandma bought bracelets for the girls to celebrate their excellent report cards, then home for relaxation and an evening of enjoying being together.  Now it’s back to contact by phone Facebook and occasional Facetime visits with the brothers/uncles and talk of when the next visit will be.

I am starting the second month of my Meditation through Writing course which I am really enjoying. It would be hard to articulate the results in words, but it’s making me more thoughtful and helping me to document the past so I can leave it behind me and apply the relaxation and meditation to help with the healing that I need. It’s not all about memories, though. As each day passes I find something in my daily life to concentrate on and feel grateful for. The whole picture is one of growing contentment made up of tiny moments and experiences as the days go past.

In last night’s BBC Horizon programme “The Truth About Personality” Michael Mosley explored the latest theories on how our personalities are created. He looked at research that had been done with twins as adults where one twin was clinically depressed and the other was not. The programme then looked at how our experiences influence our personalities and how through meditation and relaxation we can literally “change our mind”. Testing Buddhist monks by scanning the brain demonstrated this principle by looking at various areas of the brain.

I find these ideas so hopeful, especially because positive thinking is a proven technique to ease ageing and illness and promote healing. It was a very timely programme for my meditation course and I shall be watching it again on iPlayer because there was so much to absorb.

So the best thing I can do when my kids leave on the ferry  is to concentrate on my own development so that I can be a good sounding board and support as they explore their own paths and enhance my own situation by living their adventures second hand.

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New Directions – 23

Lochranza Castle
“ON CASTLES AND SANDCASTLES”

It has been impossible to stay completely calm and detached these last few days as the drama of Wimbledon unfolded and Scotland came up with a champion.The best part for me was watching the determination of the players as they showed off their skills and their growing maturity under increasing pressure.

Wimbledon wasn’t the only theme running through the days. It’s 25 years since the Piper Alpha disaster when the oil platform blew up and killed 167 men, including my cousin Bobby McCall, age 39, who left behind a wife and family. At the Art Museum in Aberdeen there was a beautiful wall-hanging in shades of the sea with the names of the men all embroidered. The whole piece was covered by a transparent blue material to represent the sea. It gave me a peaceful feeling to think that his spirit is part of the ocean and that he remains in our family memory.

Jill and the girls are here from Galway for a few days and yesterday we had the most idyllic Arran day in the sunshine. We drove round the island, stopping at beaches deserted in spite of the weather. I love the pebbly beaches at Pirnmill with small pink flowers poking their red stems across the rocks, daisies and wild grass growing along the edge. Driving down the west side of the island was truly spectacular, one of those days that you could clearly see Northern Island in the horizon.

The girls were in their element when we reached Whiting Bay. The beach at Sandbraes was soft and sandy and the sea was warm. For me that beach holds special memories of being very pregnant and soaking up the sun and having my own children in their element building castles and finding the warm currents to swim.

Yesterday’s sunshine was definitely of the healing variety. I managed to walk across the park at Sandbraes which I haven’t been to do for 2 years.  It was wonderful to feel the strength returning to my body even though it was one small step at a time and half way across I felt I wasn’t going to make it and should turn back!

Dinner at the Brodick Bar ended the day to perfection with lemon sole and sea bass for the “grown ups” and goat’s cheese and red onion pizza and mac cheese for the younger set. Total satisfaction!

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