Friday, 31 December 2010

2010 was the year I...

walked up and slid down a snow-covered Glastonbury Tor
learned that the tombola is not my friend
saw the Empire State building through a blizzard as I walked down 5th Avenue, from the Guggenheim to Tiffany's; a snow-covered Central Park on my right.
celebrated Sam's 3rd birthday
grew a flippin' awesome vegetable patch

holidayed in a static caravan
threw herbs on a massive Lammas bonfire
got straight A's
turned 40 and had a blast in Brighton with all the people who I love best
was tired like nothing I've ever experienced
started playing the ukulele
laughed in the face of adversity
realised I am tough as old boots
gave thanks
taught Sam to say "we don't like David Cameron"
decided that it's time to forgive myself
met some more amazing people who I would like to know better
Love, Love, Love xxx

I can't be arsed... trawl through it anymore....
I am enjoying my quiet evening in front of truly shite tv
About to make my second cocktail
With Anodea Judith's excellent book on chakras next me, Wheels of Life
Thinking about the coming year and...
that's about it really.

And- about to write a poem or two.

Once this wrist is out of plaster I will get going on the uke again.

I've started painting again too. For the first time proper since Sam was born.

I realised this year that I am pretty good at a few things - and so if they increase my happiness ratio I'm going to get on and do them.

I was always told what I couldn't do and shouldn't do when I was growing up- it's a hard thing to break out of, and very late but I have worked very hard over the last decade to reclaim myself and my creativity, and I won't let it go for anything.

Love xxx

Ten Years Ago

I was 29.
Had stencilled 'happy 2000' on the front window of the small cottage I lived in, in Bristol, with my fiance, now ex-husband.
Was wearing a black suedette stetson, fishnet top and long black full skirt, all covered in sparkles, sort of disco-goth-cowgirl...
Had lots of people round for pre-party drinks
Went to a party and DJ'd in a very drunken state
Had to be escorted home to bed in the early hours

It feels like it happened a million years ago on another planet

Thank gawd I don't have to do it again.

*Time for another champagne cocktail*

Some good bits from 2000-2010

My best friend Mel
Being with my mum before she died
My radio show
Starting painting again and working at Studio Upstairs
Disovering Mindfulness
Glastonbury Tor
Glastonbury Winter solstice 2005
Marian Green telling me to "Be determined" I've lived it since 2002
Getting divorced and surviving heartbreak (just)
Being an undegraduate.
My dad
The Goddess
Learning to drive
Roger Butterworth telling me "The Universe is a friendly place"
My ukulele

...and many other things but these spring to mind first.
Love xxx

Close to the Edge

I'm finishing this year by writing, celebrating and reflecting on what was good, bad and indifferent about the last decade.
I want to off-load the bad stuff I'm still hauling around and leave it here, at the end of 2010.
This is an experimental blog post that I am going to write over the next few hours- it might end up being several posts. It might make little sense, will definitely be self-indulgent and influenced by alcohol, and there is a chance that I will read it back tomoorow and delete it.
A little step into the unknown then, a tiny riskette...

*now soaking a sugar cube in angosturas bitters in preparation for making a champagne cocktail*

Of course I may give up on all of this nonsense sooner rather than later as I am typing with one hand after sustaining a broken left wrist a couple of days ago.

*the champagne cocktail is lovely, if not quite cold enough*

The difference between ages 30 and 40 is greater than the difference between ages 20 and 30.

Everything becomes settled and fixed....and if it is not for you, then it feels as if you are swimming in a different current to others...close to the edge- well someone has to be.

I think that I have always feigned not caring what people think, or maybe I was very self-centred and un-self-aware.

Now I feel old enough to grow old-er disgracefully- I was kidding myself there would be another way, and punishing myself when I didn't fit into the 'square' hole... time to let go of that.

It's not easy being green- but it's a damed sight easier than trying to be something I'm not.

Here endeth the first ramble...
Love xxx

broken blogging

so i will be starting a new year and a new decade with a broken wrist. there is no interesting story to tell about the breakage. sam and i had gone to see my best friend and her boyfriend and were walking in richmond park, when i slipped on leaves as we walked down a hill.

i followed my friend's r.i.c.e advice -ice, compress, elevate (can't remember what the 'r' is for) and they drove us home and helped me put sam to bed. the next day it was swollen and painful and 'not right', the ensuing trip to casualty and x-rays confirmed a fractured distal radius, needing a plaster cast for at least 4 weeks. and of course, no driving and me to ask "how do i lift sam, put sam's night-time nappy on and give baths etc...?"
luckily my friend can come and help me tonight so that dad's new year plans aren't scuppered, and very luckily he is prepared to change some of his plans so i have help with sam.
i have had some lovely offers of remote help from friends via facebook and lots of good wishes which are truly appreciated. but the fact is i am totally reliant on my wonderful best friend and my dad. i am blessed to have them indeed.
my modest plans for new year's eve looked to be do i make a champagne cocktail when i am not sure i can open the bottle? how do i blog with a broken wrist?
so, broken blogging is possible, if you will pardon the lapse in correct capitalisation and punctuation. and if blogging is possible, then so are cocktails!

I wil be on my own , writing, reflecting and letting go of the last decade this evening.
Love, Love, Love xxx

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Parenting the F*** It way

I feel better this morning. Lighter, happier, more optimistic. And I really think it is because I dared to write honestly, if briefly, about the struggles I have with my internal, critical and perfectionist, dialogue.

What I am learning to say is "F*** IT" and I am reading a marvellous book, F*** it: The ultimate spiritual way, by John C Parkin, which is helping.
Part Barefoot Doctor, part common sense, part punk rock, it contains possibly the best parenting 'advice' I have read in a long time. Also, it is the closest to my own views on parenting, which is very reassuring.

What Parkin outlines in the section on parenting is the fear parents have of their children, which reflexively you may argue against, but it is worth being open-minded about what he has to say, and it made a lot of sense to me:

"And the whole of society will support a disciplinarian approach to parenting. This is because everyone has this fear in them of what children might do."

"So it's time (for you at least) to say F*** It to this fear. And this is why:
The less you try to control your kids, the more they will take care of themselves.
The less you discipline them, the better (generally)they'll behave....
When you get out of the way of children they pass through things very quickly:
A child left alone will soon stop shouting and be quiet again.
A child left alone will soon stop stropping and be happy again.
A child left alone will soon stop racing around the restaurant and come and eat again...
And when I say 'alone' here, I do-of course-mean left without you trying to control them rather than literally 'alone'....

If you take this course of less effort and intervention you will invariably get some shit from other people. You'll get some looks in restaurants and in shops. And it's up to you where you decide that 'it's just their shit' and where they have a point (i.e. it must be darn disurbing here in the Savoy to have children leaping from table to table dressed as Spider-man.)

And if you're thinking, 'Yeah, sure, sounds great in theory, but I'm sure it's a nightmare in practice,' listen to this: in the end, as parents, we don't 'know', we only sense. And our sense as parents all along has been to let our children be."

This is not a full quote, just a flavour of what Parkin is saying, so if you are interested in this I would recommend reading the whole section, which is only a few pages long. My faltering self confidence means that I do struggle with allowing Sam his freedom in restaurants etc because I worry too much about other people thinking I am a bad parent. This is something I have written about here in the past but I know really that I am a good parent.

So I say F*** IT to the dirty looks from now on. Sam is not malicious, going out to cause harm with intent. Just exuberant and needing some management! It's a horrible office-speak-ism but I suppose this all boils down to something that could be called 'Light-touch' parenting.

I have many other parenting books but a couple which have been particularly uselful at times and which I may write about in another post:

Buddhism for Mothers: A calm approach to caring for yourself and your children, by Sarah Napthali

Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Myla and John Kabat-Zinn

I read twenty parenting books when I was pregnant, probably because I am a bibliophile and I am sure because I had just lost my mum and don't have any close, older female family wisdom to draw on. To be realistic though, if Mum was still around I am sure we would clash daily over how I am bringing Sam up- even though- contrary to what some people might think, I am far from radical. My main aim is to be supportive and loving.

There are two things I have done so far as a parent which others seem to have found controversial: I never left him to cry as a baby; I breastfed him til he was two.
I actually had friends ask me if I thought breastfeeding him that long would psychologically damage him! Check out what the World Health Organisation has to say on the length of time they recommend to breastfeed a child. I have no axe to grind or judgement to make about either of these very personal decisions- it worked for me and Sam and he stopped of his own accord a few days after his second birthday, just as I had decided I felt it was time to change our bedtime routine, which was the only time I still fed him.

These two issues are two of the biggest taboos I have ever encountered. Forget sex and drugs- if you want to be subversive these days just try and have an open conversation about extended breast feeding!

In fact wherever I have left Sam to make a decision he has done it himself at the right time for him and I have had no problems. The only time I took advice from someone who allegedly knew better was when Sam's nursery insisted he be potty trained in time for his move to pre-school. This has been a nightmare, simply because he was not ready. We are moving through it very slowly and I have now taken any pressue off him and am leaving things up to him wherever I can.

I hope that I am always respectful of other people's parenting choices. I try very hard not to push my views on other parents. We all do things differently and each child is unique and we know as mothers, as parents, what is right for them, and for us as a family.

Love, Love, Love
...and F*** IT!

Monday, 27 December 2010

If at first you don't succeed...

"...Be bolder..." I read the other day.
It's very wearing, having to refute all the bad shit in your head, when it decides to pop up. The voice that tells you you are a failure, worthless, useless; it's too late for you to succeed; whatever made you think you could?

Then it takes some energy to turn all of these negative statements around. And it's not good for writing- it leaves you (me) feeling paralysed, unable to write, scared to express all of this negativity for fear of sounding self-pitying, which I'm not.

So, "Be bolder". I like the sentiment- just working out how I can I maximise my boldness in the coming year, which I will be seeing in with a night of champagne cocktails and (possibly drunken) blogging.

For we are indeed in the strange limbo between Christmas and New Year...a time of reflection and random eating.

This decade of 'noughties' has been full of rites of passage for me: marriage; death; divorce; birth; rebirth...and lessons hard-learned.

I am looking forward to saying goodbye to the last ten years. This chapter is ready to end.

Love, Love, Love xxx

Monday, 20 December 2010

The Meadow

The meadow is quiet
Not even the hum of a bee
The meadow is still
No breath of breeze
The meadow is a place for you and me
A place in dreams for us to be
I describe it for you as you go to sleep
It is green and warm, the grass is long
We can make daisy chains
Lie still, watch clouds change shape
And wonder where the birds are flying to
You ask me how we get there:
“Close your eyes and imagine....”
I hold your hand and stroke your hair
I close my eyes and imagine....
You laugh and say:
“Mummy, you’re funny.”

Mother Night

I am de-cluttering and preparing for what promises to be the most auspicious Winter Solstice that any of us may experience in this lifetime. A full moon and total lunar eclipse take place tomorrow as well as the solstice. This is the time of year to focus on intentions for the new year to come. Sowing seeds of new thoughts, behaviours, projects, resolutions. A time to be positive, fill your heart and mind with light, with prayers for friends and family and for the world. To give thanks and dream BIG!

This is when the Goddess gives birth to the God- so a time of rebirth and new beginnings for all, the return of the light.
Love, Love, Love xxx

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Stopping and resting

Stopping university and getting some rest has paid dividends. I have had a couple of days where I have been able to function fairly normally. I saw someone on Twitter describe having M.E as "having flu, a hangover and being burned from the inside all at the same time." I have been spared the burning but recognise the flu plus hangover description. It is horrible.

I find myself in the position of dreading something as simple as going to get some shopping. I mete out the precious energy it will take: get in the car and drive to x; park the car and walk to x; get shopping; pay for shopping; take bags back to car; get in car and drive home feels ridiculous. I have taken for granted (as we all do) my vitality and ability to get so much done in a day - too much. This all has to change.

I have no idea how I have been doing all that I have been doing. Studying as a full time undergraduate and being a full-time single parent is enough to make your head spin!

At the moment I am looking at ways to facilitate my recovery and make sure that I stay as well as possible so that I can be a fully-engaged mum to Sam and finish my degree. At the moment I am on for a first but whether this will remain possible I don't know and if not I will have to let it go. I can only do my best.

My best friend and her boyfriend have been absolutely fantastic. They've taken Sam swimming the last two saturdays and took him to help buy their Christmas tree last saturday as well. This has made a big difference to me, not having to do a whole weekend on my own and giving me a break.

It meant that on sunday I could drive us to the park, have a good walk and play a bit of football with Sam, and then meet some old friends in a nearby pub for lunch. I was exhausted by the end of the day but not so obliterated that I lost all sense of reason which is what has been happening.

There are so many things to fight for but the fight I must win is learning to stop and rest and get better. And then choose which battles...

Love, Love, Love xxx

Et In Arcadia Ego- Not

I've not been well enough to go to any of the student protests against fees but have been there in spirit.
With police tactics as they are I couldn't now risk it even if I was well enough because there is only me to fetch Sam from preschool and what if I was kettled until 11.30pm at night as a group of demonstrators on Westminster Bridge were last thursday?
I walked past Top Shop yesterday, wondering how many student discounts they are clocking up at the moment. They certainly won't be getting any business from me from now on. I am boycotting all of Philip Green's Arcadia stores. This is not a hardship anyway, Top Shop has lost its edge, it's clothes are bland and overpriced in my opinion.
I don't shop at any of his other stores and only go into BHS to use the toilets, the same reason I only ever enter McDonald's...If you want to know the reasons behind the boycott, why Polly Toynbee was carried out of the Oxford Circus 'flagship' store a couple of weeks ago, and why the windows of said store were smashed last week see the UKUNCUT page.
This coalition government make Thatcher look like Mother Theresa...they are ripping up the social fabric of society. The Big Society 'Dave' goes on about is a load of crap...this is Divide and Rule tactics along the lines of "why should tax payers pay for someone's university education"? By that argument why should tax payers pay for someone else's child to be able to afford to travel to FE College...EMA; housing benefit, sports coordinators in schools. NHS waiting lists were almost nil under Labour- they are already creeping up under ConDem..."whey should the average tax payer pay for....?" The argument goes... IVF (already disappearing from the NHS), care homes? Children's centres...? Check out the localities this ConDem government- this is where it's going.
A university education benefits the whole of society, economically, culturally and socially. That is what a progressive tax system pays for. The more money you earn, the more tax you pay. Except the Tories don't like that do they?
I've also heard a lot of people, and mostly the generation above me of 60+ say "they want to put the working class back in its box" and I agree with that sentiment.

This is not a cogent argument- this is just thoughts and opinions that have been simmering away.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Meg Rosoff's How I Live Now

Last night I finished reading Meg Rosoff's 'How I Live Now' which was her first novel and has won all kinds of prizes.

Rosoff creates a story filled with magic, although it is not really described in the usual fairytale terms. This makes it real and believeable. She somehow captures the atmosphere of a place without being explicit. I am not sure how she does this and this is part of the appeal and mystery of her writing.

The book is going to be made into a film and I will be interested to see if it can do justice to the relationships between the children, especially between Daisy, who tells the story, and her cousin Edmund.

Rosoff combines all kinds of challenging subject matter, not least the atrocities of a possible future war, with a taboo-challenging relationship.

There is a dystopian, unflinching quality to it that made me think of The Road a couple of times, and I wonder if her writing style has a similarity to Cormac McCarthy's? Just a thought that might be worth exploring further.

Rosoff's structure reflects the war being played out and consolidates the plot very successfully.

I am sure that had I read this book when I was 14 it would have changed my life.
I know it is going to change my writing.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Sestina – Waking up on Easter Sunday with you

Waking up on Easter Sunday with you
Shouting “Get me out of bed please Mummy”
And wishing today could be different:
Celebration; extended family
Since mum has gone things continue to change
What would she think about you and me?

Conventional life does not fit with me
But I try to fit in because of you
Perhaps this is something I need to change
Happy child comes from a happy mummy
I can’t create a perfect family
Time to celebrate being different

With confidence in being different
I continue to be the hard-won me
Operate as a joyful family
Then I can stop feeling like I’ve failed you
Because I am not a yummy mummy
I am a real person trying to change

I have to own up to what I can’t change
No point in wishing things were different
Being a mummy, losing a mummy
The beginning of the making of me
If I can be me, then you can be you
A new definition of family

Easter Sunday meant seeing family
The last year has seen another big change
A wider ripple of the loss that affects you
Sad, not bad, unknowable, different
Like a strong current, this ripple drags me
Under for a moment, struggling mummy

I hear “Can you play with me now Mummy?”
Easter, the rebirth of my family
Let go of the past, look forward for me
Another opportunity for change
Welcome the future: better; different
The garden holds chocolate eggs for you

I can only be me, the best Mummy
I can be for you. We are family,
Embracing change, daring to be different.

This is one of a series of sestinas I wrote earlier this year. It was written after a very unhappy Easter and marked another big change. I assumed that I would always be surrounded by family at 'those' times of the year. In fact Sam and I spent most of it alone. I found this intensely difficult and upsetting, as I am finding things at the moment. But it will pass, as does everything...and maybe a poem will get written too.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


I find myself in the peculiar position of having to make the effort to stop and do nothing, to rest and just be.
I am hopeless at this but it is a skill I must now master because it will help to make me well and able to 'do' again.
This is all relative of course-as a single parent I still have to 'do' stuff all the time.
But apart from that I have to relax and rest.
My amazing Dad has Sam for a couple of days while I stay at my best friend's for a proper rest and some peace and quiet away from everything.
The house is eerily and soothingly silent.
I haven't looked outside yet today. I have managed to get up, eat something, drink a cup of tea and now write this.
Yesterday I had a meeting at university to work out how I manage my workload until I (hopefully) start to feel better and get used to managing this M.E thing.
I feel hopeful that I will be better and will be able to get on with life but am aware I've been shown a red card and I need to make some permanent adjustments to stay well.
I've been looking at dietary changes- I'm quite good about what I eat- I have to be as I have significant food allergies. But I do love to eat cake and drink lots of strong, black coffee. I've cut down on both recently but now they have to go altogther, along with the daily glass of red wine with dinner.
I've a long history of experience of chronic illness to draw on and so am looking at this as a positive thing as it means I have some idea of how to treat myself to get better.
I generally manage to pack more into one day than some people pack into a week and then still beat myself up that I am not doing enough, not good enough.
This is the key thing that I have to change.
So now I am going to go and make another cup of tea and watch a film and that's it.
Even a climb up and down the stairs is tiring.
Love, Love, Love xxx

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Writing about M.E

The terrible puns continue- please indulge me for now...

In my four-ish years of blogging I have written about shoes, poetry, planting a vegetable garden, eczema, bees, sleep, being a single parent and all manner of other subjects, and why not? My life has always been reflected in my writing so my interests and experiences collide to a greater of lesser extent.

Writing has been my major focus, apart from Sam, since starting at university. I have always written and used this as a way of sorting through feelings, thoughts and dilemmas. So I shall carry this on and write about what is happening in my life now and what will happen following my diagnosis.

I managed to get in the car with Sam on Friday and drive down to Bristol to stay with friends, as had been planned for ages. It was either that and stay at home on my own with Sam again for another weekend, and we both needed a break, some fun, and I need some support at the moment.

And we have got what we needed this weekend. My old friends from Bristol, where I lived years ago, have been wonderful. Taking Sam out to see the SS Great Britain yesterday which he LOVED, and today to help friends pick out a dog and then to a pub for a lunch.

This has given me a chance to rest, think and just 'be' and have some space.

I am up and down, one minute emotional and full of fear and blaming myself. The next minute thinking positively and pragmatically.

I expect this seesaw-ing of feelings and moods to continue for a little while and, as I am only human, I am going to let those feelings out as they come, and then let them go and get back to looking forward.

There are lifestyle changes to be made and priorities to be considered.

This is an opportunity to make positive changes. As my good friend Kat says," You are the captain of your ship" and I think I know whiich way I am going to steer it.

But for now I am in dry dock, getting repairs, and looking at maps.

Love, Love, Love

Thursday, 25 November 2010

All about M.E

I have just been diagnosed with post viral fatigue syndrome, also known as chronic fatigue syndrome or myalgic encephalomyelitis or M.E.

I am in shock really and trying to do everything possible to put stuff in place to give myself a break and take the pressure off. I haven't been well since September and the diagnosis and signing off from the doc yesterday was a relief as well as a shock.

So, how as a single parent without much of a support network (although where it exists it is wonderful and so appreciated) and half-way through my final year of my degree I have to ask myself- how do I get through this?

Day by day and one step at a time. Sam is my priority and there is no doubt that me being poorly over the last couple of months has affected him. I need to stay well to make sure he is ok.

This is just some thoughts really- not a well thought out blog post. I hope that with rest and some more lifestyle changes and a good look at my priorities I will be able to get better and stay better. The last few years have been some of my healthiest so this is a quite a blow.

I want to be able to take Sam swimming again and have enough energy to go out on my bike and dig my veg patch. Can't do any of these just at the moment.

Love, Love , Love xxx

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Kitchen, Kip and Kids

Day four in the house without a kitchen. Day four of a total of three weeks and there are four plasterers getting to work for a second day on the concrete box that was our kitchen. It will be worth it but at the moment we are living higgledy-piggledy out of a chaotic dining room and feasting on a range of microwaveable food. It’s an adventure...

Respite from this came when I stayed at my best friend’s house the other night. We went out for dinner and to see a film for her birthday- meat platter at Bodeans followed by The Social Network and half a bag of jelly babies...and then a taxi back to hers and a hot water bottle encased in a fluffy pig cover, a dark room, silence and sleep...blessed, uninterrupted sleep for nearly seven hours.

The sleep deprivation for me continues apace. Not every night but most I am woken up by a small person requiring a nappy change or reassurance that the monsters in his room won’t get him. This is all fine in theory but I seem to be lurching from one bout of exhaustion and fluey illness to the next. Add in the workload of the final year of my degree, visiting prospective schools for Sam for next year, and now no kitchen and I am really struggling.

The bus journey home from my friend’s house yesterday morning was full of kids on their way to school. Normally I have my head firmly in a book or newspaper, and this was no different yesterday, but then I could hear the sound of ‘Automatic’ by the Pointer Sisters drifting up towards the end of the bus where I sat. Looking down the bus, trying to work out where it was coming from, I spied two boys aged about 12, sharing a set of headphones and actually singing along to this eighties classic...Aw! ...quite innocently enjoying a good tune, no gangsta rap in sight. The kids (of today) are alright.

I try and go out once every few weeks for a grown up night out, by myself to a gig or poetry reading, or for dinner and a film with friends. Although I have too much studying and not enough hours in the day to get it all done, on top of chronic sleep deprivation and the normal extra stuff that comes with being a single parent, a night out is pretty important. Add in a good night’s sleep and it really is better than going clubbing used to be...oh yes, categorically, no contest.

The fluffy pig left a deep impression on me- not literally- that would have to be the other way round-and I found myself in Boots yesterday afternoon buying a fluffy hot water bottle cover. I am converted...a fluffy warm lump at the end of the bed to warm my toes on as I go to sleep is blissful. I wish it could be a cat but allergy prevents this- at least I am guaranteed it won’t suddenly decide to go elsewhere.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

The work is the work - Save Our Forests

"...Being discovered is not the work...

the work is the work.

Ever and ever.


The above is a quote from the poem " Advice to The Outsider" from The Dangerous Old Woman by Dr Clarissa Pinkola Estes. Dr Estes is probably best known as the author of the life-changing Women Who Run With The Wolves.

It is a poem asking us to be tenacious "like the blessed yew tree" and "remember your treasure" becuase we never know when it will be needed and "when our gifts will be discovered".

This is about honing skills and being focussed on the work we are called to do, to do it to the best of our ability- not to worry about what anyone else thinks- to be true to our own path.

I came across this poem on facebook and added a comment to the burgeoning number of comments already left by women expressing their thanks for this wisdom:

"The work is the work- thank you- in the UK they are threatening to sell off our national forests to private developers- the fight against this is now part of my work..."

They, the coalition government, want to sell off a large proportion of Forestry Commission land to private investors. Caroline Spelman from DEFRA will be making an announcement outlining the exact nature of these plans shortly. Apparently there will be no sell-off in Wales or Scotland- so it's us English who stand to lose...

After the stories in the press at the weekend there is now a 20,000 signature and counting petition (which you can sign here)an ever-growing group on facebook (which you can join here) and now...silence, while people wait and think of how best to protest and campaign against this.

I am still unable to articulate properly how deeply I feel about this- almost tongue-tied. IT CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO HAPPEN. For so many reasons, including most importantly the environmental repercussions.This is OUR forest to keep. NOT theirs to sell. How dare they?!

This is about our natural habitat, our natural heritage, our freedom to roam, our future generation's right to have all of this...there are other deeper reasons which I will attempt to write about when I am able to...but anyone who knows about the deep green woods, who cares about dreams, who understands myths, who thinks about a nation's psyche...its freedom...its soul will wonder what will happen if our trees are cut down, the land is turned over for property courses...centre parc style holiday resorts...

"The work is the work"

My work is to be Sam's mum, finish my degree, keep writing and now to do something to stop our ancient forests from being sold off.

A quote from Women Who Run With The Wolves:

"There is much afoot at any given time that can make a shambles of spirit and soul by attempting to destroy intent, or by pressuring one to forget the important questions: Questions such as, not only what are the pragmatics of a situation, but also "where is the soul in this matter?" One proceeds in life, gains ground, reverses injustice, and stands against the winds, through strength of spirit."

Standing against the winds like that old yew tree...full of treasure.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Threads for weaving

Persuading you to put on trousers this morning, even though you didn't really believe "surfers wear them at this time of the year too, y'know..."

Day 4 of feeling so poorly I can't do anything except tap and click on my lap top and read.

So thankful my Dad has been around to help with Sam.

Starting to feel inspired to write now that my brain has had a chance to rest and think because the whirling dervish who normally transports it has had final warning from her body that she needs to rest and get well.

Still buzzing.

Furious at the Comprehensive spending review and feeling more and more lucky instead of desperate about my current situation, and trying not to fear the future.

Disappointed that I am not performing poetry tonight as planned.

Needing some community, as ever.

Wondering if I can still plant bulbs in the front garden now there has been a thick frost?

Loving the Plum Village web site : "Breathe, you are online"

Looking for peace.

Striving to be a good mum.

Living in the moment and practising mindfulness.

Thinking about the Tor.

Wishing I was better with words.

Leaving the bags at the gate and running up the hill feeling free.

The veil is thin...Let Go

Love, Love, Love xxx

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Are You Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

Yesterday I spent the afternoon in Richmond. I have been reading Virginia Woolf's a Sketch of the Past, from the book Moments of Being, a collection of her auobiographical writings. This is the second time I have tried to read Woolf, and as it is one of the set texts for a module I'm studying as part of my degree, I knew this time I would have to persevere. But until the last few days I have been looking at it as a mountain to climb- one that I was hopeful of appreciating the view, once I reached the top.

I've just drafted a review of this piece of writing, which does not come near to doing it justice. I never got 'it' before, with Virginia Woolf, never watched that film with Nicole Kidman, gave up reading Mrs Dalloway after three attempts. Decided it wasn't for me.

I will find the tiniest reason to go to Richmond as it is. I lived there for several years as a child and it is overlaid with memories which stretch right up to last week when I had a stroll along the river and visited Ham House gardens for the first time in over 30 years.

My reason for going yesterday was ostensibly to sit and read Woolf 'in situ'. Just an excuse really but I've known for ages that she started the Hogarth Press there with her husband Leonard, where TS Eliot's The Wasteland was first published. She lived there from 1915 to 1924. So I went and stood outside Hogarth House and tried to imagine it without the brutalist architecture nearby, and to tried to guess which route Woolf would have favoured to get to the river or the Green.

Her writing, once you get into the clause-ridden and heavily punctuated sentences (which become quite addictive to read after a while) is astonishing in its clarity and depth. The intensity with which she evokes her childhood in all its facets is unlike anything I've encountered before. Powerful stuff and deeply moving. I will definitely read more.

Worth the climb.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Writer's Block?

I'm not sure why I haven't been writing. I have been extraordinarily busy but that hasn't stopped me before. I've been thinking about writing a lot but not doing it.
I'm not short of ideas - quite the opposite. The two months since my last post have been crazy - full of new experiences, weekends away, celebrations and fun. Maybe I have been overwhelmed with it all. Maybe that is the answer.
I have been trying to get back to my daily practise of writing poetry and some kind of prose, jotting ideas down in my notebooks, and scrawling on anything resembling paper when inspiration strikes.
The final year of my degree has begun, and after the election in May, I am feeling very keenly that I have to make it count. Things are going to get very tough over the next few years, especially for single parents. My support network is limited and I am still 'homeless-at-home', living with my Dad. I have a renewed awareness of how lucky I am to have his support.
Writing is the way. I am convinced of it. How much blogging I am going to do this year is a mystery. But the block, if there was one, has gone. I am back and I am writing.

Love xxx

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

A Meditation on Sleep

Sleep is a precious commodity these days, especially since Sam went into a bed and is no longer content to lie in his cot until I lift him out. A little voice pipes up outside my bedroom door, "Mummy I want to go downstairs" at approximately 5.45 every morning.

I don't mind, I love being woken up by this amazing little person but sometimes I am so tired and grumpy that it is quite a struggle to deal with such a ball of energy so early in the day.

Part of the deal of being single parent means I get to do this every day without respite. Very very occasionally my Dad will get up with Sam and let me lie in but this amounts to a few times every year. I do get to stay at other people's houses or even once in a while in a B&B or hotel, so I really can't complain. I am very lucky.

There are times when it is hard to catch up and sleep deprivation kicks in and recently I have been going out of my mind with tiredness. Any parent will tell you what this is like- and there is nothing like it.

My tutor suggested getting an alarm clock and gradually setting it later and later to train Sam into getting up at 7am, and I am going to give this a try. I tend to think that this is a phase that will change as the seasons do but there is no harm in helping him along a little bit. After all he's going to be waking up to an alarm clock soon enough, more's the pity. Makes me think of the t-shirt I saw with the slogun: "Alarm clocks kill dreams". I am very much a 'slow and steady wins the race' sort of person about this kind of stuff.

Last Friday, after a night at the cinema seeing Inception (I could have drifted off half way through the overly-complex plot but stopped myself), I stood outside the car park which was closed at midnight and swore at the top of my lungs out of pure tiredness and frustration...I blame the overly-long Hollywood blockbuster!

So, by arrangement with my Dad, this morning I got to lie in and he took Sam to nursery. I got to sleep in my own bed until mid morning, only disturbed by the next door neighbour choosing this morning, of all mornings, to mow his lawn.

A good night's sleep these days feels thirst-quenching. I feel rehydrated. I can see better, concentrate and be more focused and productive. I am more patient and happier. Not quite such a cantankerous old bag as usual.

Of course, this wonderful state of affairs is about to slide away but all in a good cause. Preparations for my 40th birthday are being made and I am very excited.

Strangely, and unusally, I have been having some sleepless nights because of nightmares as well as Sam's early starts. No doubt these have compounded the sleep depriavtion symptoms. I think it might be adrenalin. There is so much to look forward to in the next couple of weeks that the anticipation is keeping me awake!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Love is a Verb

I spent one day at the Goddess Conference in Glastonbury. This year the theme was the Goddess as Lover. I returned, as ever, from that place with plenty of food for thought.

The two quotes below are from the article Love, Self and Sacrifice by Stephen Howard MD:

"To care for one’s self is to care for one’s capacity to encounter, to connect, and to love. The impoverished self can love only poorly, while genuine love flows from the nurtured self. When I am tending to myself and not being sacrificial, I can choose to give. Then my giving is an act of generosity and love, springing from a full heart."

"Love is customarily thought of as a feeling. But feelings are in the area of emotion, and if we relate to someone only emotionally then we relate as partial persons. Loving is an act, an act of the whole person, of the self, encountering and connecting and committing.
When we speak of encounter, of love and spirit, many of us speak of God. It can only be the self, the fully experiencing person, which connects with such a God. If God’s primary manifestation in the world is love, then for the self which is full and nurtured love indeed is boundless. The limits of nurturing and of our own spiritual capacities can be exhausted; love itself is inexhaustible."

Saturday, 31 July 2010


I've just come back from a couple of days in Glastonbury, my centre of the universe. It always shakes everything up and makes me look unflinchingly at myself and what's going on in my world.

This time was, as ever, the same but different. It was even more different than usual. Changes are coming and this is the time I begin to consider which seeds to sow next. What is finished, what is beginning, what is ongoing... of course this comes from the turning year.

Lammas is the season for looking back and giving thanks for the harvest. Of acknowledging that which is ending and looking towards the seasons approaching and the possibilities for the future.

Next week will be four years since my Mum died. I mention this here but I do not intend to write any more about it. I have told the story of my Mum's death and Sam's birth many times and now it is time to lay that story to rest.

And give thanks for what is.

Love xxx

Friday, 16 July 2010

In one month...

I will be 40.

I like being my age, and the idea of being 40. I like pottering in the garden, writing poems, baking with Sam.

I like our new habit of football club, "Mini Dribblers", on saturday mornings, followed by a trip to the "Numbers" cafe, armed with magazine for Sam and newspaper for me.

I got my results from university yesterday and scored straight 'A's in all my creative writing modules. Not bad for an old-school drop out. And a full-time single parent.

I have started compiling poems for submission to competitions and publications. It would be great to get something published.

My life is possibly the most challenging and the most satisfying it's ever been.

Love, Love, Love

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

My 100th Post as LucyFurLeaps

I am thinking I should make this count but really I wanted to have a quick ramble. I am starting to get back to some writing again. Following a few weeks of manic listmaking and doing, a wonderful week's holiday in Devon with Sam and my best friend, and needing a break after the intense meltdown-producing end of last semester at university.

I have still got plenty to keep me busy- obviously full-time single motherhood is top of the list. Also the garden, see my Roar!Earth Blog for more on that, and the general re-organising and de-cluttering of the house.

I am trying to find time to get my bike serviced and go swimming but haven't quite managed it yet...

Poetry is still my main concern.

Politics is creeping in too, after the inevitable let-down of the ConDem coalition. I am choosing what I read and when I read it carefully because it is so depressing and worrying. But I am keeping informed and wondering where to start 'acting'.

I am going to join a political party. I am fairly sure which one it will be but it is conditional. More writing on this when I have done the deed.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

The Ingredients of a sword

A spoon


Cricket bat

Bubble mixture

Tin foil


Wrapping paper

("We don’t need socks")

A paper plate

A paper bowl

As instructed by Sam

Thursday, 1 July 2010

A Slight Blow of My Own Trumpet.

June has only gone and turned into July! I have written bits and bobs but nothing substantial for a while. In truth I haven't stopped in other ways. I have been catching up with the huge list of tasks around the house which have been waiting for me to finish university for this year. I've spent time with Sam and been on holiday to Devon for a week. I've been trying to keep track of my burgeoning vegetable patch (see the Roar! Earth blog for more). I've read a few books and entered a couple of competitions.

But, if you'll pardon the vulgarity, I'm going to have a slight parp on my own trumpet here, because on Monday I got my Independent Creative Writing assignment back from uni, marked by my tutor Rachel Cusk, and I got 80%. She has called me " a marvellous poet" amongst other very postive comments.

I am so relieved to have got a first for this latest collection of my poems, among them six sestinas. I worked very hard on them and they mean a lot to me. What it really means though, is that I have to keep going.

This is just the beginning.
Leaping! xxx

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

"That's a good idea isn't it Mum - just five more minutes."

I looked down and realised that I was holding a wooden spoon in one hand and a small pretend jar of branston pickle in the other. Whilst dancing frenetically to 'Magnificent Seven' by The Clash, on a pirate ship made of sofa cushions, in my living room. After throwing a small cuddly giraffe called Gerald to Sam. The giraffe kept falling into the 'petrol' and had to be rescued over and over again by helicopter and given lots of very gentle hugs and kisses. And then hurled back into the 'petrol'...
This is a very small excerpt of what is happily indicative of a normal day with my boy. I am so pleased to be back as a full-time Mummy. It is wonderful to let go and have fun, without an eye on the clock, or a frontal cortex wondering how many words I have still to write or books to read before tomorrow.
We spent a rainy afternoon in the park, and then went to the local cafe, Sam, happy with a chocolate milkshake and a copy of the latest CBeebies magazine, me just happy. Both with hair wet and ringlety after the rain. Came back home, cut up paper and glued it on to paper plates to make masks.
Then it was time to dance, which is where this began.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Sowing and Growing

I've now completed two years of my degree. The last assignment of this semester was handed in last week. I am hoping I have done enough to get the marks I need to continue on my quest for a 2:1. I will find out my grades in due course, and this week will be able to send off the last application form for funding.

I spent a whole afternoon trying to work out what I was supposed to do with one funding form. In the end I put it down and went out and forgot about it for a while. I felt like my brain was about to explode. This applying for funding each year amounts to approximately two of the worst days of my year...intensely frustrating, ridiculous and scream-inducing. I write this, however, with the caveat that I am truly grateful that this funding has existed. I think that, following the recent election, this will all change out of recognition pretty damn quick. Fingers crossed the funding all goes through and I can complete this year.

In the meantime I now have a boisterous three-year-old, who is every inch the little boy, and such good fun. Hilarious, loving, wild and bright. Also a little monkey who has tested my patience to its limit recently. Having a break from uni will help restore the peace - I have been sleep-deprived for the last six weeks, since Sam decided it was time to leap (funny that) kamikaze style out of his cot. So the transition to a 'big-boy-bed' has been made but there have been lots of very early mornings. Trying to study and complete assignments after battling to get Sam to bed, and then never getting more than 5 hours sleep has been tough. But I've done it!
I just looked at my blog this time last year, here.

And that is still representative of how I feel.

I have been dying to get all of the uni work out of the way, even though I have enjoyed doing most of it, so that I can get on and just write. And read the piles of books sitting in my bedroom in very cliched leaning-tower-of-Pisa-like ways.
I have started with Haruki Murakami's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running", which I've had for about a year. It is so good I keep thinking to myself throughout the day "just five minutes of reading..." but of course it's impossible to do that with Sam, although I manage a flick through the paper for half an hour every morning.
I read The Road for one of my creative writing modules this semester and am still haunted by it, I won't and don't want to see the film. I am rubbish with horror, and it is horrific. I have read that it is very respectful to the book, and I love Viggo Mortensen, but I don't see how it could possibly do it justice. I recommend it to anyone but it is not an easy read.
I am still mainly concerned with writing poetry. If this is the vein I continue to plough and be excited by then I may end up doing an MA in Poetry...but let's see. I have to get through the degree first.

Since finishing uni I have been hard at work in the vegetable patch, as I have been in every spare minute I have had in the last few months. Yes, I have a veg patch! I started work on it last year and the blog I began to record its progress will soon be blooming again: It seems to be the perfect antidote to and also fuel for writing-and so I can relate to Murakami's thoughts on the way his running has affected his writing.
I have also sent off a poem to a competition- I am intending to do this as much as possible over the summer. I've also entered a piece of visual art into a competition. More about this in another post. I had something that fitted the brief. I have written elsewhere about how I always thought I was a visual artist- well, I am- but I am more wordsmith than that. The piece I have submitted is a mixture, maybe, of the two.

I can't stop and I don't want to. I am busier and more creative than I have ever been.

I am also trying to dig myself out of a hole. I need to get qualified so I can earn decent money so that I can give Sam the things he needs. So I can take care of us.

I have taught Sam to say "We don't like David Cameron". I shall say no more for now but this may change as the travesty unfolds...

Love, Love, Love xxx

Monday, 3 May 2010

May Bank Holiday

A cold, grey rainy day so far. But that's ok. Croissants have been devoured and the end of another viewing of Toy Story approaches. Then it will be tidy up, hoover the crumbs and make a pirate ship time. I am hoping the rain will hold off so we can get out for a walk in the park later but if not I am going to get the finger paints out.

I have got so much uni work to do that if I think about it I panic. Sam is now in a big bed (terrible timing but exciting too!) so bedtimes have been a bit unpredictable and mornings have been very early...5.30-6am...He is doing really well with making this transition but I am exhausted, which has made studying, and even finding time to study very hard. Last week, for the first time in ages, my skin flared very badly. I am not entirely sure why, it is imposible to ever know for sure. The lack of sleep, prolonged stress with too many competing priorities, emotional upheaval of late, and too much reliance on sugar and caffeine have definitely not helped. This is also birch pollen time so that has been a factor too.

It seems to be calming down now, and fingers crossed, will improve back to its normal state. It's been a mighty reminder of what it used to be like, and how bad that is- very bad indeeed. Severe eczema/rosacea flare is like having someone rub fibre glass into your face and eyes and then liberally dowse it with itching powder. Plus it looks awful and immediately makes me want to dive under the duvet. I used to have to steel myself against looks and comments when it was at its worst. What is it that makes some people think it's ok to walk up to you and say "What's wrong with your face?" ?

You have to make a choice about how to deal with it- whether you are going to let it rule/ruin your life. I never have although it's had a major impact in the past, and it has been very hard to cope with at times. Other people in my life have found it hard to deal with too. I don't talk about it too much these days because I don't want to be defined by it but I do help other people where I can who are going through it, or watching members of their family struggle with it.

Sam and I went out with a single parents group last week for the first time. It was such a relief to have company on a sunday, and Sam had a great time ten pin bowling. We will meet up with them again and it is going to make a big difference to both of us. When families are doing stuff together at weekends is when I tend to feel most lost and isolated, and obviously that is true for other single parent families. It was great to meet other people in the same boat and do something fun together.

I am in the midst of writing twelve sestinas for one of my creative writing assignments. These are a reflection on my situation, my thoughts and feelings on motherhood and what is happening in my life. Some of these are intensely personal but if I am pleased with them, I am going to self-publish them in a small run and send them off to publishers. Worth a go innit....

Love, Love, Love

Monday, 19 April 2010

Note to Self

Time is not linear. The clock goes round and round and we are always in a different place in our lives when it stops at midday or midnight. Even if we are in the same job, same bed, same relationship. Plenty of people live on past successes, live in past dreams, hopes and fears, or continually worry about what might happen next. I know I have been guilty of this. But I try to live in the present moment because that is the point where change is possible, where dreams and hopes can be realised. Where we can be ourselves.

I've had a big shake up in the last few weeks, a reminder of how much things do change. I spent most of Easter on my own with Sam which I found very difficult. It has made me face up to the changes that continue to happen in the way my family works, as a result of the wider ripples caused by Mum dying.
I crashed and feel like I have been in mourning again. Now though, Sam and I are free to celebrate and make our own meaning for these times (Buddha is now inextricably part of Easter, along with the Bunny). Family are around but in different ways. Mums are glue. My family came unstuck but we are gradually finding new ways of being.

Whenever the past pops up I find myself in the dangerous position of comparing myself to what could or, part of me feels, should have been. I end up feeling like a failure and questioning my abilities as a parent. I need to let go of this once and for all.

I've been weighing all of this up in the last week, which really has been an emotional rollercoaster.

But one thing is for sure. I am a good mum to Sam, not perfect but doing my best. I don't have a big plan for Sam apart from to teach him how to look after himself, care about himself and be tolerant, loving and compassionate towards others. I want him to have the confidence to be himself and have a go at whatever it is he is interested in, in the knowledge that I will be there to encourage him and support him.

He is happy, healthy, funny, polite, considerate, articulate and affectionate. To be sure he is also a mischievous two-year-old who will sometimes push my boundaries til I pull my hair out but that is normal.

As I head towards 40 I realise that more than anything else I crave peace and contentment. I seem to get that by being with my son and my friends, by writing poetry and by gardening.

I am in a mess with studying and have a mountain of work to do. I am not sure I will get it all done but I am now about to get on with it.

I have been re-reading passages of 'Buddhism for Mothers' and it is infintely quoteable. Here's one:

"Real love provides space and freedom for our friends and family to be themselves."

That is what I am trying to do for Sam - provide him with the space to find out who he is and let him enjoy being himself.

And I need to do it for me as well.

Love, Love, Love xxx

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Stop! Carry On

I am on Easter hols from uni and although I am still up to my ears in work I have made myself stop and take a break from it. I'm still writing poetry. It's impossible to stop doing that, even if it's one line or an idea for a poem.
Tiles on a shop front, Grays Inn Road, London
It has been a relief and a worry to stop. I have no idea how I will find the time to complete all my assignments and get the marks I need but somehow it must be done! My brain needed a breather and I needed to think about other things like planning activities with Sam, paperwork, the garden, and of course some Spring cleaning.

It's been good to stop and reflect on where I am and think about where I want to be next. But not too much. From today I am back on with the studying as well as everything else. I've tried to write about the past this week but I keep deleting what I write. It's fuel for poetry these days. It is done.

Poetry is a great medium for opening up a Pandora's Box of feelings, ideas, insights, observations and taboos, and continues to challenge and inspire me every day.

Love, Love, Love xxx

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Less than a minute

How on Earth, in writing can I catch
A walk at lunchtime,
Where in less than a minute I observe
The changing sky, the cold air in my throat,
The grey, damp, paving stones,
My reflection in the windows of the County Court,
Kids wandering past and hearing their talk,
As I hear a pounding drum beat via my ipod,
And think about poetry again and how much I like
The word metonym but I can’t quite remember
What it means,
And how glad I am I made my class and
I must remember to buy that envelope?
The light goes green.
I go.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Beautiful Blogger

A Huge and Heratfelt THANK YOU to Lyn who writes the excellent and inspiring TWO GHOSTS, for honoring me with the Beautiful Blogger Award!

Here's what I have to do when I accept the award: 1. Thank and link to the person who gave me the award...Thank you Lyn- I really appreciate you passing this on to me and I love Two Ghosts!
2. Pass Award on to 7 bloggers I've recently discovered, (more or less), and whom I think are fantastic!! Here goes:

3. Contact Bloggers to let them know to pick up Award.

4. State 7 things about myself:

1.I was in a band called Primordia and released three cds on the World Serpent label, which are very rare and seem to be collectors' items these days.

2.I used to love DJing (I'm more of a selector- am crap at mixing!) and ran a club night and put bands on in Stoke Newington for a bit in the late 80s.

3.In 1993 I lived next door to Tommy Steele in a squat.

4. I am a qualified reiki practitioner and an aromatherapy nut.

5. I have a wonky left eye.

6. I studied art history with the Open University.

7. I am allergic to almost everything but live in hope and homeopathy.

Love, Love, Love xxx