Coming Home

Today I’m feeling slow, quiet. Less words, gentle thoughts, kindness and compassion for myself. Finding words to write isn’t as easy as usual.

I feel like a paradoxical version of a new-born lamb, stumbling softly with uncertain eyes, and an elderly gent, reserved, settled and content. I’m discombobulated, great word that one.

I’m physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted, my body aches, my eyes aren’t quite working at their best. I’ve worked hard. I look it too, pale faced, haggard, drawn and weary. So today I’ve gifted myself some real time off, proper rest, lazy contentment. Letting the dust settle until my eyes clear and my legs feel surer footed again.

Actually? I really am ok. My body will recover, and the exhaustion will pass. The fatigue that has plagued me since catching the virus last March is easing, month by month it is better.

No, I’m not even just ok, I’m actually good. I’m back home. Belonging. Peaceful. Yes tired, aching and quiet, but I’m good.

With love in your life, with family, especially during difficult times, comes a certain sense of responsibility. Not resented at all but keenly felt and appreciated, because to have people to love (and be loved by) is a blessing in life. So I’ve been away, for the first time in almost a year (because lockdown), taking care of a family who are part of my family, while one is in and out of hospital and young ones and a home needed attending to. Complex but it felt like a little adventure from the current somewhat Groundhog Day existence we’re all living in.

This past year we’ve all felt limited, restricted, crushed even, by lockdowns. Held in place, no outdoors life to live, no adventure to be had, no explorations other than in our own minds, online, with each other (if we’re fortunate to be locked down with others) and in our own homes and gardens.

So I got to go somewhere, for the first time in a year, and do something ‘else’, something ‘different’. See, love, hold and cherish loved-ones unseen for most of the past year. But in the process I discovered something that feels a little contradictory and peculiar, which has quite taken me by surprise.

We’ve always said that we love to travel, and equally love to come home. To our home, our ‘castle’, our safe nest away from the world. However this past year there’s been no travel at all, no retreats away, no exploration of the outside world so it’s been… weird. Surreal. Sad. Irritating.

I only have a few goals left I intend to achieve in life as I’ve been profoundly lucky thus far. I get to be who I really am, live and love how I really choose to, and pursue whatever dreams I’ve had. All that is left (until new goals appear) is the communal home by the sea, getting my doctorate, writing my books, and travel. House sales have been put on hold due to the impossibility of viewings during Covid19. My immense work takes up far too much of my time and energy to make the doctorate feasible at present. However travel? We were really nailing it; going somewhere new every year, revisiting old favourites, travelling to see loved ones etc. Fabulous. Except of course we didn’t have that at all for 2020 and indeed still can’t for some time yet. Retreats were my medicine, a couple of days here and there alone, completely off grid in random cottages and huts amidst woods and fields; a devotion to myself, time and space to breathe and be with only myself. Those were gone too of course this past year, unsafe in the viral environment.

So I didn’t expect to be homesick. I’ve been in these four walls for almost an entire year, wishing, longing, aching to go out. I’ve not even left the house for weeks at a time, months at some point, other than to step into the garden or a few times joining the dog walk.

I didn’t expect to feel so profoundly the warm embrace of my home, welcoming me. The familiar, the comfort, everything from the pictures on the walls to the bed, the shower, even the toilet! Everything feels safe, comfortable, reassuring. It may not be perfect, but it’s ours, we made it what it is, and it is indeed, our home. The faces and voices I’ve seen every day for a year (and few other), their eyes, their smiles, their smell. So much drinking in, of all of them.

What fascinates me most is that I would have thought, after being ‘trapped’ for a year, it would feel like stepping back into my (albeit lovely) cage, back into a prison of some sort. But it does not. It still very much feels like slipping into a warm cosy bath, or snuggling into bed under the duvet, or back into a favourite pair of slippers.

And I’m so very, profoundly grateful, for all that we share together. I am lucky.

We are indeed, the lucky ones.

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Discombobulated (vs Buffoonery)

That’s definitely the feeling here for me today. Confused, foggy, not my usual focussed self. Well, to be fair, I’m utterly focused on one thing (care for another during crisis), which leaves little room for my own mind, brain, thoughts and feelings, here in this space of writing. So, let’s just see what there is in here, shall we?

Discombobulated as a word is meant to be a ‘fun, fancy’ way of saying confused. Is it fun? Can we look to find the fun in it? I’d say a definite yes. Ultimately this human drive to be effective, efficient, good at stuff, achieve things, can all get really rather dull and even foolhardy… could we say for just a moment?

How about letting loose, cut loose, be a little more free and silly once in a while.

So perhaps I’ll take a moment to step outside, into the fresh air, and dance a silly jig or sing a silly song. I suspect that might make as much sense and do me as much good as pretty much anything else right now, in this moment.

Irreverent, that was  a word someone else used. How about being just a little irreverent towards the entire socialised process of being human, growing, learning, doing. It’s all just so terribly serious!

How about we just remember what it is to have the freedom of a child, to run, leap, laugh liberally, including at ourselves when we trip and fall flat on our faces. To pull faces, to blow raspberries, to stop ‘adulting’ and remember how flippant and ridiculous we can really be.

How about remembering that at some point each day we all of us end up squatting on a porcelain bowl, pants, skirts, trousers, knickers around our ankles, knees splayed, feet akimbo, doing what animals do every moment on the earth but in a nice, neat, washaway device we created to make it a more palatable, more discreet and serious business?

How about remembering what we actually look like when we first roll over from sleep? How our wonderfully bleary eyes squint and widen, rub and squish, to ‘make them work’. How our hair (or lack thereof) looks first thing, glorious mayhem or perhaps a bit of odd shadowy stubble. How we stumble like Bambi to the bathroom to begin that ridiculous ritual of, preparing ourselves to be fit for consumption, presentable, acceptable… to whom? Lovers, family, colleagues… zoom?

How about the last time we did something so ludicrous we laughed aloud at ourselves? Put your toast in the fridge instead of the butter, took the wrong car keys out with us, put our underwear on inside out? Human, being. So busy being a human doing, we forget.

Have you ever stopped and realised just how completely silly we look when we get het up over something? Some little thing that for no apparent reason ‘presses a button’ and ‘gets us worked up’. Perhaps it’s only afterwards we stop and bashfully realise how daft we look when we rant, red faced and apoplectic about who did this or that. Perhaps it’s only when we see someone else doing it, really see how it looks from the outside, we stop, chortle at ourselves for our ridiculous nature and the bizarre socialisation that inspires such acts of human buffoonery.

What really matters?

Is it the way we look, present ourselves to the world? Is it that nobody sees the silly moments where we’re actually just animals, in bed, or on the loo? Is it the momentary flights of feelings we have that in hindsight just look fairly ridiculous?

Or could it be fun, irreverence, silliness for its own sake.

Let’s all be children again once in a while, set yourself free, cut loose from the shackles of what ‘should be’ and how ‘we just must’… and just BE, instead. Laugh, dance, pull a really good silly face, do something for no other reason than that it feels good and makes us smile.

How about that, for one, somewhat simpler meaning of life?

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Thoughts on Life

Breathe deep, be with your body. Pay attention to it, hold it, feel into it, what aches, what hurts, and learn what feels good. Flex and stretch it, roll and sensualise it, touch and love it. Don’t shy away from it, don’t dislike it, don’t pick fault with it; it is you. If you think you like who you are, yet dislike your body, you don’t really love you. Love its marks, shapes, colours, its age, and its curvy or pointy bits, its extra or lack of bits. Trust it. Hold it and allow it to be held. Have pride it in, it is yours, and it is what makes you alive and what allows you to live and love. As it should be, it already is. Love it anyway.

Walk, dance, and move more. Allow every bone and muscle to feel every movement, move it all, keep it alive, flowing, going. Without health, without the physical ability to do all the things you wish to do, life merely gets tougher. If it is already restricted, do all that you can to allow it movement, flow, life. Love it anyway.

Love your mind. No matter what abilities or skills, or what lack or struggles, it too is how you navigate life, relationships, learning, passing on your knowledge, work and play. Utilise it, refresh it, help those grey cells thrive and live by always feeding it more. Always allow it time to rest and play too. If your mind is a challenge for you, be that mental health, neurodiversity, lack of education, intellectual or academic ability, use what you have, learn what you can, let it thrive in environments of exploration and learning. Love it anyway.

Nurture and nourish your heart. Feel every feeling, great and awful. Allow yourself, give yourself permission, you are entitled to all of them. We’re trained to swallow or repress, ignore or deny them, don’t do that. Those same feelings will arise time and again until you truly allow yourself to feel them, spend them, so they may pass. Roll the taste of them around on your tongue, in your mouth, in your body. Where does that hurt? Where does that enliven or excite? Let the tears flow, let the laughter ring out loudly, let freedom and truth guide your emotions so that you are, wholly you, heart open and honest, deep and shallow, let all of the truth of your feelings be alive. If your heart is weary or sore, forgive it, its all we really have to guide us through life and learn heart lessons from. Love it anyway.

Seek adventure and experience, suck the very marrow from the bone of this thing we call life. No regrets, only experiences and memories, great and awful. Travel, meet new people, seek out lives other than your own to learn from, other cultures, races, languages. Do all the things you as a child wanted to do in life, whatever those things may have been. Learn to live again, and to drink deeply from this life we are given. If you have restrictions, do what you can, when you can, how you can. Live life as much as you can so that the only things you ever have regret for are the things you haven’t done, not the things you have. Good times and bad, love life’s experiences anyway.

Make connections. Don’t be an island, except from time to time as it is useful to you, to go within and love oneself, to breathe and be a human being, rather than a human doing. Meet people, make new friends, talk to passing acquaintances and learn about them, we can all learn so much from others. Love freely and openly, even knowing that sometimes that love is not returned, and forgive those who love you when you cannot in return. You will not be liked by everyone, and you will not like everyone; it matters not. Interacting with others is what matters, the connections, the intimacy, the web of beings we share our lives and this planet with. Love anyway.

Explore spirituality, openly and freely. Make your own choices, whatever you choose to believe, it is your choice, nobody else’s. Whether you choose a religion, a spirituality, or prefer currently proven facts, science, or indeed both. Whether you choose to disbelieve in any form spirituality and simply choose another way for a moral compass, or find nature your source of solace, that too is your choice, it matters not. What matters is that it is indeed your own choice entirely, and that as such you respect anyone else’s right to choose for themselves, too.

Nurture and nourish one another. Do not harm, diminish or belittle each other. Thrive together, do not divide and wither apart. ‘Everyone is entitled to their own opinion’ but do take time to consider; and if your opinion harms another, either rethink it or keep it to yourself. Diversity and difference is what makes us human, do more to welcome and make allowance for it, and less to do harm because of it. Love one another anyway.

Be kind. So much of life and the world would be more beautiful, if we were all simply kinder to each other. Be thoughtful, considerate and acknowledging of one another. Witness each other in all our differences, and be respectful of other beings also going about the business of living their lives. Be compassionate to those less fortunate than yourself. Be passionate in elevating others, by which actions in turn you too shall be elevated. Be loving, as when someone appears to deserve it the least, is probably when they need it the most. Speak less, listen more.

Love anyway.

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2020 – A Birds Eye View

I’ve been wrapped in an uncomfortable cocoon through the depths of Winter. Unhealthy, unwell, still very much in recovery from the Spring of 2020, with post viral fatigue still eviscerating my ability to function other than work, rest, sleep. I took a break, both from writing and from work, so that I could focus on resting and healing. I rested. I slept. I drew within, in the cold, damp dark. Constrained, restrained, trapped by my own desire to not move, not hurt, not prolong.

Now I feel a gentle unfurling, not unlike the very first snowdrops that start to show us peeks at white at the tips of their green. Still tightly wound, still vulnerable to the frost, yet determined and succumbing to the inexorable growth that happens in such times of hibernation ending. I ache for more light, more air, to be able to finally look around at what’s surrounding me again, to join with the others peeking out from their cocoons. I miss the sun, music, movement and most of all… people.

Lockdowns abound, it’s heading for a year of living this way now, quiet, withdrawn, alone. So many suffering both within my client work and within my own circle of family and friends. Struggles in health, finance, boredom and loneliness.

So I learned to be alone, within. I support many with heart and passion, love and physical needs. I choose to, am humbled and proud to, devoted to even. Yet in the cold dark alone I feel the same as everyone else. It’s hard. Really hard.

Yet the common phrase I hear is ‘first world problems’; We are well clothed, fed, sheltered. We are most importantly together, in a good-sized home with a lovely garden. We four, my partners and our youngest, are able to support each other in all ways, every day. One dog who gets all the love, and exercise walks for those who can. My beloveds elsewhere have withstood the test of time and distance, even though we’ve all only been able to be together once or twice for almost a year, those relationships are a testament to themselves, solid, deep and profound. Friendships are so precious in that we know that no matter the time or the distance, once we are together again they will be just as treasured and beautiful as always.

I know we will drink in fiercely and deep when we are able to be together again, looking, touching, breathing in… all of us.

But dear sweet all-the-gods, how I miss holding my children, my grandchildren most especially. Watching them grow up on camera or at a physical distance will never be enough. I ache to wrap my arms around each and every one of them and just hold them and hold them until they tire of being held. Breathe them in so deeply, absorb their scent, their physical self, store away the memories until I can do so again. If only we had known how long this would be. Oh how we would have held and held, laughed and cried, danced and kissed until we were spent, to store up a wellspring until we could be together again. Oh how we’d have gazed into each other’s eyes, if we had known how long it would be before we could be so freely close again.

I miss my loved ones, all of them. I miss fun, adventure, parties, play. I miss the joy of living a full life surrounded by those we choose to share it with. So much so that my chest hurts simply writing those words. I miss my horse, my motorbike, the beach, sea and woods. I miss travel, exploring the world some place new every year has been my aim for years. I miss the freedom to walk down the street and hug someone I see, the freedom to kiss, to wrap my arms around and entwine with other humans I love. I miss the adventure, intimacy and connections of living this truly blessed life we live.

I’d like to think that none of us will ever take those things for granted again. I’m sure many will, once we ‘return’ to some semblance of life as it was before. I know that I shall never again take any of those precious moments for granted again. Ever. For as long as I have left to live, I shall treasure every breath, every experience, and every person. Forever.

Holding others pain, whilst still feeling and having my own; that could be the greatest description of being a therapist in these times.

Holding my own pain, whilst holding others. That could be the description of 2020 for me.

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Missing Hugs from my Kids and Grandkids

I’m feeling silly amounts of sad today.

Mostly, we’ve coped pretty well with the pandemic, with a few sad or frustrating times just like everyone. Our garden is a godsend. Our work continues online, so income hasn’t unduly suffered. The kids are resilient, but the teens and pre-teens, gosh they’ve suffered so much. Just when they need to be with friends, when in child development terms they need to turn to peers, rather than parents… they get hit with this, just no, you can’t.

But today? I’m feeling selfishly sad. Such a seemingly small and simple thing, but gosh it made my heart ache.

Yesterday was my son’s 31st birthday; we couldn’t see each other on the day because we were both working late. But today, this morning I whizzed over to give him his gifts and card, and just see his face at least. We were totally safe, stayed outside, not for long and stayed the recommended distance apart. But oh my goodness, how I longed for a hug, to wrap my arms around my own son, my flesh and blood, and hug him silly.

Even typing this I’m getting teary again. There’s something irreplaceable about hugging your grown up kids, nothing else will do; and today covid19 can get in the bin (as the cool kids say), because damnit I WANTED to hug my son SO much, and couldn’t (his lovely fiancée is a nursery school keyworker).

I felt just the same when I saw my daughter Kirsty briefly, because she’s a teacher too, and I haven’t even been able to see Katie at all! As for my grandkids… gosh it smarts, they’re all growing SO fast, and all I want is to see them and hug them silly.

Poor Ash is getting all your hugs as well as their own at the moment (they still live at home with us and are totally safe as, even more so than us as they aren’t going anywhere), and they’re not exactly the hugger of the family so are definitely taking one for the team!

But in truth I really can’t risk getting covid19 again, I’m genuinely not sure I’d actually survive it a second time. Damn right I’ll be having the vaccination the very moment I’m able, if ONLY because then I’ll at least be able to hug my own (other) kids.

I love you guys, heaps and oodles, and I’m warning you, you all have a lot ginormous amount of hugs to catch me up on after the apocalypse!

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A Remembering, Through Dance

What is this strange beast that trickles so many memories into my body? It’s a remembering, nothing new, nothing strange… but time has tricked me, fooled me into thinking that it’s gone. It’s never been gone, it didn’t die, didn’t fade into the oblivion of age. Just got lost along the way, left behind like an empty crisp packet lazily blowing down the street unnoticed.

I forgot. I forgot how alive my body could be, even tentatively, stepping apprehensively into the stream, fearful of being swept away, kept stable on two feet for the most part. Risqué lumbering onto only one leaving me wobbling upright, reaching for balance. What of the tai chi I learned so many years ago, what of that balletic ability to control the body in movement on one point? What about the dancer, the positively athletic movements of my youth on the dance floor, lost in the music, lost in the rhythm, lost and delightedly so in the body itself?

Rhythm, movement, chaotic and yet pulsing, playing and joyfully teasing itself by a stretch, a leaning just on the verge of off-balance, yet finding it and keeping it within the container of intentional dance. A thrust here or four, a sway here or more, a turn and a spin that once so devastatingly easy, now creates a pause, for rebalance.

But it’s still there. Dear sweet gods it’s still there. The ability to lose my body in the rhythm, ignore all pomp and circumstance and forget ‘what it looks like’ and focus instead on feel (is that what we learn, as adults, to be adults? What a crying shame) and just… let… go.

A remembering. A losing oneself only to truly remember oneself. To step over, past, through all culturally swallowed appropriateness, socialised properness, and to simply be free.

So easy as a child, no care in the world, just freedom of bouncing joyfully and hurtling the body around with gleeful ignorance of any fear. Is that what it is, fear that stops us in the end?

Then no wonder as young adults we master the art of enjoying that ‘freedom’ in a somewhat controlled, masked format, constrained, looking awesome, posing delightfully, knowing with more control of our forming adult bodies we can ‘look good’, pose, or staying seated or by the walls if we have that fear instilled a little too far already.

No wonder indeed as older beings we stay more still, or keep those movements within ‘safe’ constraints, walking perhaps, exercise classes… so much structure and ordinary.


Fuck the fear that stole my movement. Fuck the socialisation that created that fear, that made me, us, constrain ourselves within the suit of armour known as ‘safe’, the bars of the cage labelled ‘grown up’. Normal. Socialised ordinary. Fuck that noise.

I want my body to remember it’s liberation, that freedom, this luxurious wantonness of mayhem, this tornado of the body releasing itself. Within all things, whether walking, dancing or sex. Remember what it’s like to not care who’s watching, to not mind what it looks like, to ignore pretence of constraint and control. To remember true bodily freedom.

This goes so deep, so far. Not just in dance but in all things. In posture, in being ‘with’ others. In clothing, hair, choice of accessories to ‘dress up’ ourselves in childlike glee. Stop worrying what others think, who’s looking, what that might unintentionally say about us. Just be, do, fly, free.

Fuck Socialisation

Isn’t this the microcosm of the macro? As we age, grow older, become more searching, seeking of ‘who am I’ and ‘what is the point’… so becomes the deluge of realising just how much of ourself, is not ourself. Just how much and how deep it goes that we are shaped by our socialisation. How much of ourself we hide, bury deep, only to have to excavate it all over again later in life.

Why must it be so? Why can we not always be free to be the truest version of ourselves? Why must we wait so long before we start to uncover just how horribly influenced we are, in all things, by society, media, family, lovers, peers equally influenced by all these things. Fitting in. Learning how. Becoming less of ourselves as we go on.

Only to finally turn around, look in the mirror, and start to remember.

Remembering oneself.

One’s true self.

It’s bloody glorious.

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Mortality and legacy.

(a piece I wrote with Wild Write Wednesdays; a writers group on Facebook)

(pic of multiple differently aged hands)

There is a certain gift, that a real sense of fear of one’s own mortality, brings.

Now bear in mind I have no fear of death itself; I know where I’m going, what I’m doing, and I’m fully aware that it’s simply another kind of transition. I’ll continue my work, only in a different form.

Yet I do have a fear of running out of time to suck the very marrow from the bone of life in this form. I have so much life left to live, so much drinking in of it’s gifts and blessings, so many dreams and experiences yet to fulfil. I feel so keenly the desire, the need, to complete my work in this life before I move onto the next! Yet can we ever really complete all that we wish or desire?

I think we mostly move through this life unaware, so intent and focused on what’s next, to do, to achieve, to get to… that we forget to stop, to look around, to literally smell the roses. Mindfulness has been a great medicine for all humans to defeat that, but that’s another story for another time.

Sometimes in life we are reminded that it’s a finite period of time, from birth, to death, and the clock is ticking. Someone beloved or unexpected, dies. Our thoughts turn to the ‘end’ for them, what they missed, who they left behind, what will be forgotten and how quickly. A ceasing to exist, creates in us a moment frozen in time to really sit back, reflect, reassess our own lives.

Sometimes it’s not someone else, sometimes it’s us. A sickness, a disease, an accident survived. The current global pandemic, for example.

Whatever it is, it causes us to stop and think, and to look around.

What is my life, what does it mean, what is it for?

Who is in my life, who matters most to me, who is affecting me negatively, and what do I still need to do about that, or them?

What have I done, what have I not yet done that I still want to, what dreams do I have left unfulfilled and how can I achieve them?

What harm have I done in this life, and how can redress that?

What do I know, what have I learned, what do I still wish to learn and how can I address that?

How is my health and what can I do to balance that better? To eke out the number of years I have left in this particular life?

Are my affairs in order? If I died right now, what would be left to deal with, to tidy up, finish off, or wrestle with… and who would have to do that?

I’d like to leave some letters I think, for all those I love and care about, to let them know the effect they have had upon me and my life. To let them know, for always, beyond the grave, how much I loved them and valued them in my life.

I’d like to leave some money behind as inheritances for my children. Money may not buy happiness, but the millennials will mostly not even be able to get onto the property ladder without this kind of a leg-up. Do they even still want to? At least it’s something that might help them achieve some of what they’d like to in their own lives whether that be a home of their own, travel, experiences etc.

I’d like to leave a record of my work behind. A book, online courses, perhaps an apprentice or so, so that my work can continue beyond my death.

I think I’d better get cracking. That’s a lot of work still left to do, and truly do any of us know how long we have?

My health has deteriorated, I’m painfully aware of it. My lungs are degrading from the COPD that they were, to post Covid19 stickiness, less air, the liquor of life itself. The fatigue means that slowly my body is deteriorating in all ways, muscles, strength, stamina… and goodness knows what else is going on inside. Nobody knows, as yet, really. I hope I heal well, and can live and thrive anew.

So yes, these are my thoughts of my own mortality at the moment. Held in liminal space, for myself, here and now.

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Spirit work name, and wings

(a piece I wrote with Wild Write Wednesdays; a writers group on Facebook)

black wings tattoo on man
black wings tattoo on man (from here)

I wrap the blanket of this group of delicious beings around me, warm, safe, held… and I come alive. My body radiates, wide open, drawing on all the energies around me and from the universe… and flings wide my arms in greeting. My mind feels free, liberated, eager to explore and dive within. What words from my body shall move me today, I wonder?

My shoulders flex, aching, sore. My neck feels stiff and sore, the spot between my shoulder blades calls my attention; each shoulder blade calling out for attention of touch, pressure, liberation from being locked in place so long. I note to self to get a deep tissue massage again, and soon.

My wings are calling me home, crying out to be heard, seen, felt… used joyfully again. Despite this age of virulent attacks on the body, of fear of such, of separation and distance and time.

My medicine name. I worked for those three words so hard, for so long, over shamanic journey after journey; one particular guide showing me each time more of themself, whilst concurrently showing me more of myself. I hadn’t equated the two things before, or rather, hadn’t noted the gift of exchange in that years long process.

His own being-ness, so profound, so deep, so more-than-human. So other, above, greater-than. I am awed by his… their… presence and the powerful nature of that particular spirit. He followed me all my life. From the sleek black panther of childhood accompanying me across the rooftops, unseen, free to roam, driven to explore. Through the magnificent Bengal tiger, who accompanied me through womanhood; maiden, mother, crone. To my beloved raggedy lion who welcomed me home through my transition to man; the enormity of a prehistoric cave lion, my head standing barely comes to his haunch, when he’s sat beside me on the mountainside. We’ve all travelled wide together through my life thus far.

Until finally, during a three stage visitation over time, we travelled together to show me my true name, my purpose, my journey and lessons this time around… he showed me his true form. There are no words to describe it, yet here I am writing, so I shall try.

The books, the stories, the myths and legends, even the religions… they all have ‘pieces’ right, pieces in common. The wings. The light. The serenity within power. The lion, the names; yes even those winged beings’ names that man found, are a blend of truth it seems. Or perhaps just not the whole of the story.

He… they… are breath-taking in their truth, standing in humble glory, shining of a brightness impossibly blinding to look at and yet… I did, do and can anyway. The wings, oh the wings… my own meagre in comparison as yet. And yet. He showed me mine.

There is such a deep and profound, yet simple truth in my spiritual name. I call them in, unwittingly, whether intentionally or accidentally (they are drawn to the reflected light)… yet however, they come. I am open like an enormous door, and in they walk, freely and willingly. I embrace them, welcome them as they are, human, fallible, beautiful, broken, fierce with potential… and I wrap my wings around them.

My own wings are black as night, shiny, glistening almost… and yet with a velvety softness of huge feathers laid on thick muscle. Their true strength is only seen or felt after a time however, once the bewitchment of them wears off, they see the human, and the strength it truly takes to wield such wings as a mere human.

I  help them to feel safe. Seen. Heard. Felt. I allow them the warmth, safety and the strength from my own wings until they learn to fly themselves. Sometimes they take flight easily, others stay and dwell contentedly within, either way… I love them wholly, freely and abundantly.

They learn to fly through the holding and the teachings whilst being within my wings. Learn to rise above, to be better selves, to be magnificent in vulnerability and find their sense of self, real and true whole self, not socialised constrained self. I lift them up.

Simply their love, nurtures me. Feeds me. Heals me in return.

Some are burnt by the brightness, cannot withstand the strength, or feel unworthy and flee. Others rise above, radiate themselves, learn and grow and become levels above within themselves.

My wings are iridescent, magnificent, resplendent.

Yet they are heavy too.

So my neck and shoulders? They ache sometimes.

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Healing isn’t Linear

I’ve had a hankering to journal again. And um no Facebook. Lol

I don’t want it to be all moaning, but I’m afraid it’ll start with one. Well, that’s why I need to journal I guess.

My recovery from covid-19 has been long, weary making and mostly unpleasant. Ok it’s sucked arse. I’ve written about it here in previous entries, so I won’t regurgitate all the symptoms and that experience.

But I do need to say omg I’m so bloody sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I’m overwhelmingly exhausted. The post vital fatigue had finally started to lift a month ago (after 7 months).. but this past week it’s really kicked my arse all over again. I got nothing.

Often I can’t even lift my arms, let alone walk. When I walk I look about 90, and I’m humiliated by that. My body hurts, aches, has no strength, no energy, no stamina. Doing one relatively normal thing (for me, previously) leaves me totally shot for a week or more.

I’m not known for being the world’s most patient patient.. But seriously. This is beyond ridiculous. I know they’re still learning about the effects of long covid-19, I’m sad I got it in the beginning, because maybe later would have been better, they’d take me seriously now. I’m banging down supplements recommended like smarties. I’m resting when my body says rest.

But omg I’ve got so much to do, so much living to do, and I’m sat here a deflated useless lump.

Ok that’s exaggerating. I’m still working of course, because my client books are utterly full (unsurprisingly) and I can sit in my comfy chair and just work, to help others. That feels good at least. Useful.

But all the other things I want to do, even much of it I’d still be able to do in lockdown, I’m stuffed for, for now. Online courses, books, monthly online workshops.. nada.

I just can’t. Frustrated and sad are my current middle names.

Still.. As always.. I AM truly blessed. I have a wonderful home, which I share with my loves, a great garden (so much work done on it during lockdown!) and now even a new fabulous bathroom! My other relationships are soul nourishing and wonderful, some poorly, some lonely, all missing each other and me.. yet they’re all still there. My kids are glorious, their kids too; each struggling through lockdown in their own way but managing. I miss my mum, and my kids, most of all.

My life is good, great even. But it does feel, like most I expect, it’s on pause.

I’m fed up. Hence journal. That’ll do for today.

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Coming out of Covid Long; a long hauler’s recovery

(a piece I wrote with Wild Write Wednesdays; a writers group on Facebook)

Warning; it’s very personal, and may contain ‘health’ triggers for some.

Photo by Daniele Levis Pelusi on Unsplash

When I close my eyes and feel into my body, I feel coiled, curled up, almost foetal. I notice I’m really holding myself close, wrapping myself up in my own arms, in clothes, in warmth and home comfort. My belly even grew during this time, as though it too was holding onto comfort, warmth, the centre belly core that I’m wrapping myself around. It’s protective. Hiding. Safe.

Perhaps it’s because I still feel so strongly the longing for ‘retreating to my cave’, as that has been such a fundamental part of my life for the past seven months, since I contracted covid19 in March. I was quite poorly, not so bad that I needed to go into hospital (in fact I fiercely avoided and resisted doing so, as to do so would be to admit how sick I really was)… but I did retreat into the cocoon of the spare room. It became my sanctuary, my cave, my withdrawal to lick my wounds and heal myself.

The after-effects of the virus were undeniable, and unbelievable. So many and varied, so scary and traumatising. Neurological symptoms that shocked me, upset me, angered me.

Who knew that vertigo wasn’t simply a fear of heights that made you go slightly wobbly, but actually can be a terrifying disconnect between reality and what your body feels or believes? A thing that could take you from standing or sitting calmly and feeling absolutely normal, to slamming into a wall so hard you’ve a lump on your head. Multiple times. No control, no warning, just SLAM. Ouch. Or upon laying down would invite the kind of incessant, nauseating room spinning that you may only ever have experienced after a little too much adventuring in alcohol. Every night. Or that it meant learning a new way of fetching things from the floor, or putting socks on, that didn’t mean bending down at all. Or you fall over, scarily easily, because dizzy vertigo spins hit. Every time.

Who could have guessed that fatigue didn’t just mean really, really bone-weary tired? That actually what it means is hitting a wall, sometimes without doing anything at all, where you’re actually unable to move, to lift your arms, to do anything but sit or lay feeling utterly miserable because you can’t move. Miserable because you know something’s broken, and you’ve no idea how to fix it. Miserable because every single action we take for granted in life becomes an internal negotiation, fearful, stubborn, consequence-costing. All… the… time. You learn the truth about spoons. It’s not ‘just tired’.

Who knew your eyeballs could ache, as if hit by a tennis ball during school sports, throbbing and star-spangled vision, for no apparent reason? Who would have thought that pins and needles, that mildly innocuous and slightly irritating childhood bizarreness, could come on so violently and be frighteningly painful? Who on earth would think that you could viscerally, physically smell a smell that nobody else could, a vile smell you can’t eradicate, so often that you begin to feel that something inside your brain really is actually broken? You learn what paracosmia is. Apparently, some people lost their sense of smell for a time; I’d rather that, than try to eat, drink, sleep with the non-existent yet very real stench of petrol or paraffin in your nose. Tinnitus is the same; a sound that isn’t there, but it’s real enough in your ears – or so your brain tells you – that it can drive you to places you don’t want to go.

Perhaps you, like me, thought that brain ‘fog’ simply meant fuzzy headed, like after a night of poor sleep, or a few drinks, or just from exhaustion. Nope. It’s like someone pressed pause on your thinking ability and you can’t simply will it away and just go back to thinking. Like a short circuit. Dots don’t join the dots. When you’ve relied and depended upon your brain for everything your whole life, it’s really very scary when it just doesn’t work. Repeatedly. That one’s a to-tears-reducer. Thankfully that one wasn’t too often for me.

IBS was tough beforehand; my digestive system simply went AWOL afterwards. COPD means that shortness of breath was a known thing before, but not like this. This was buy-an-O2-monitor and try not to be scared level. Heart rate meanwhile was partying up around a permanent 100 to 120; that’s pretty scary too for someone with a pre-existing arrythmias. Muscle wastage. Bedsore (which isn’t simply being sore from being in bed, turns out it’s basically a hole your body eats into itself due to constant pressure). Recurrent cystitis.

It’s no wonder I wanted to simply curl up and hide in my cave. Still partly want to because that shit was scary.

Everything I had left in me went into my work, every ounce, every drop of breath, heart and mind effort went into my clients. My work. So important to me that it had to come first. My only compromise was to cut back on my hours, so that I wasn’t attempting impossible 11-hour days.

Any droplet of anything I had left during that time went into my family, relationships. Drip by measly drip. I’m half surprised anyone is still there. Except that I’m incredibly lucky, they’re amazing, patient, compassionate people. Some struggled, some were forgiving.

The rest of my life I spent on or in bed, resting. Rest… rest… rest. I’ve never been so bored of resting, yet so utterly incapable of anything else. Ever.

My heart ached, hurt, for all of the life I was missing out on, even dog walks. Not only because the coronavirus was ravaging through the land, but because my body was ravaged and broken, useless. Stairs were hard. Cooking was hard. Walking further than around the house was mostly out, some days I only managed the stairs once, some days not at all.

I’m blessed, profoundly privileged. I have a home, garden, love, people. I was fed and cared for when I couldn’t feed or care for myself. I could continue to work from a ridiculously expensive and comfortable chair in my own office, where my body could rest while I used my heart and mind.

I’m still here to tell the tale; with diabetes, a heart condition and a serious respiratory issue, frankly I consider myself bloody lucky. But I didn’t feel lucky, in my care. Licking my wounds. For seven months.

Some clever someone/s said that Vitamins D3 and B12 might help. I said, meaning it completely, that if someone told me licking an elephant’s arse would help, at that point I’d have gone out to find one. I took them like smarties, until the smell of my pee changed (the body can only absorb so much) after which I knew I could take a normal dose. After two weeks, I didn’t dare hope or believe, but I knew in my heart that something was returning. Some sense of my previous self. I cried. After four weeks, now, I remain stood up or can walk around without negotiating, for ten or twenty minutes here or there, easily. It’s like learning how to tango or walk on the moon, it’s ecstatic. Delirious.

I live with the guilt. That many do suffer from not just post viral fatigue as I have, but from long term chronic fatigue. Not for months but for years. That they endure, the way I’ve lived for the past seven months. In bed. In my cave. Desolate, desperate and miserable. Stubborn, strong, iron willed. Equally compassionate to myself and frustrated and angry at my body. That chronic fatigue sufferers have to fight to be heard, believed, treated medically, even loved for themselves no matter what their bodies can or can’t do or perform. I cry for those who live with this and may never find their own particular way out; that there may not be one.

I live with respect, admiration and astonishment for how so many chronic fatigue sufferers go on about their lives, learning about pacing, about spoons, about trusting their bodies, treating them right and enabling them to – mostly – function in life.

I just went to my cave. And hid there. And it was truly horrible. I stopped calling myself a coward; that wasn’t nice or kind. I stopped beating myself up; that was awful. I learned to rest, to be kind, to be patient with myself and my body, even when others weren’t.

I’m on my way back… or perhaps forwards. I’m sure as shit not pushing it. I’ve learnt from these remarkable people to be cautious, to be kind to myself, to not to push it or I’ll simply slide back and regret it. I’m taking my own sweet damn time.

But I began this piece by feeling into my body, truly and deeply in stillness …and I found that I’m still mostly curled up, wrapped around myself. Keeping myself ‘safe’.

And with all my bursting heart I want to leap, and spread my wings, and dance and fly and sing. I want to explode outwards in a gleeful frenzy of joy, life and laughter. But I am afraid, and sensibly trepidatious.

I shall have to learn to build myself up, slowly, carefully and thrive fully once more. One step out of my cave at a time, slowly-slowly, but surely.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked pensively. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.” Trina Paulus

Photo by Bankim Desai on Unsplash
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