How often do we happen to look but fail to see? Fail to take the time or effort to truly assimilate and absorb the life around us? Perhaps something is simply too far away?
A camera is ideal to focus one’s attention and as an amateur photographer a recent birthday present of a new camera reignited my passion for the craft.
It rarely leaves my side; accompanies me on walks, to the garden, around the house. I’m overjoyed to share ten of my favourite photos taken the previous week and hope you enjoy them and some of the quotations they inspired me to seek out! Each one has taught me to look afresh at the world, showing me a new perspective on life.
“So it is with blackberries. If you pull too hard, you may get the berry but you will lose the sweetness of it. On the other hand, if you leave it, it may be gone the next time you come by. Each person must find this point of equilibrium for himself.” Extract from Death of a Hornet and Other Cape Cod Essays by Robert Finch
“He was mastered by the sheer surging of life, the tidal wave of being, the perfect joy of each separate muscle, joint, and sinew in that it was everything that was not death, that it was aglow and rampant, expressing itself in movement, flying exultantly under the stars.” Extract from Call of the Wild by Jack London
“How do you like to go up in a swing, Up in the air so blue? Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing Ever a child can do!“ Extract from The Swing by Robert Louis Stevenson
“His one sorrow was not solitude, it was that the other gulls refused to believe the glory of flight that awaited them; they refused to open their eyes and see.” Extract from Jonathan Livingstone Seagull by Richard Bach
“When you recognise the sacredness, the beauty, the incredible stillness and dignity in which a flower or a tree exists, you add something to the flower or the tree. Through your recognition, your awareness, nature comes to know itself. It comes to know its own beauty and sacredness through you.” Extract from Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle
“Everything has beauty butnot everyone sees it.” by Confucius
‘Dear Creative Spirit’ is one of the first exercises set by Julia Cameron in her ‘The Artist’s Way’ and after my initial hesitation of what to write, I found myself inspired as I addressed my own Creative Spirit.
I came across a rough draft of this recently and since have edited it to this final version here – I hope it gives others the ability to trust in their gift. Lack of confidence in one’s capabilities is often the hindrance to even start writing and sharing one’s work.
Clearing out is a task I throw myself at with glee! For some this is a chore, understandably so, whilst for myself, the opportunity to revisit past items, letters, papers is an act of time travel!
Amongst the haul, I unearthed a calendar beneath a desk, papers were strewn on top, dust neatly and evenly covering the surface. I cleaned down the pretty cover and flipped through the images.
The artist is Erkers Marie Persson and for many years she painted for the Swedish Calendar. In her paintings, she tries to capture the wonder of bygone eras when generations mixed easily with each other. The pictures included in my post are taken from this delightful calendar which our company gave away to customers! Thankfully, I retained one as well!
Over Easter, I will be enjoying a ‘home-holiday’ and taking a mini-blogging break, popping in now and then. I wish you all a peaceful and relaxing holiday time!
“A childhood without books — that would be no childhood. That would be like being shut out from the enchanted place where you can go and find the rarest kind of joy.” Astrid Lindgren
Often we let our dreams remain just that — a fantasy! A longing etched in the heart and mind, slowly dissipating into oblivion.
One such dream had lightly rested in my spirit for a long time and finally dared to take form within me last spring. For a week or so the idea gently took root, and as always I tried to stomp out the ridiculous notion! It would not obey and instead reached deeper into my consciousness, my dream took on a dramatic design. At last, I could see it! My writing studio!
For another week I pondered the possibilities, the position for such a building in the garden, exploring the numerous different garden offices for sale as well as taking into account the overall cost.
With all the boxes ticked I approached my husband to discuss the plan and his enthusiasm mirrored mine! After much deliberation we settled on a building and time-frame — delivery was organised for the middle of January!
It was wonderful in the midst of this dark and traumatic month here in the UK to have this positive exciting new project underway.
I revelled in planning all the elements of the venture, from the construction to the completion, overseeing all the various stages.
First trees and bushes had to be cleared; I bade a fond sad farewell to a beloved acacia tree and climbing roses. In its place, two super guys laid a cement base and the light and airy feel to the corner lifted my spirits and I could not help but give a little twirl on this temporary perfect outdoor dance floor!
Whilst waiting for the building electricity was an urgent necessity and a professional company explained that this would need to come from the mains in the house. Furthermore, a trench 600 mm (2 feet) deep needed to be dug from the house to the new building for the armoured electrical cable. My husband took on this unenviable task, digging in all weathers, and for all his hard work I happily listened to his descriptive monologues of each varying layer of clay (there are many!)
Soon enough the building arrived and the two guys came back to erect the kit-form building.
Within four days, the piles of wood and building parts had been transformed into a magnificent new garden office. At their suggestion decking was laid all around the building and this complemented the modern sleek design perfectly!
With the exterior completed it was time to tackle the interior and at first I was daunted by the gaps between walls, ceilings and floor. No fear, I was reassured by my husband, as all would be finished beautifully and during the coldest days in the year he filled, painted, added skirting, coving, trims as necessary.
In less than two days the electricity was all put into place and at last there was light and power in the building. All in time for the new carpet and curtains.
An opening ceremony was held one sunny evening and with great aplomb, I cut the ribbon strewn across the handles and we stepped inside. My mother poured the champagne she’d brought and we had a wonderful celebratory time picnicking on the soft carpet!
Finally it was time for a heave and a ho! Three days later all my furniture was in place, which included ‘borrowing’ a bookcase from another room and putting my all-important ornaments, knick knacks and pictures into place.
The pièce de résistance was the most unusual and stunning present from my mother — a beautiful Tiffany lamp. Can you see the dragonflies flitting about?
I have now fully moved in and I am ecstatic. Ensconced within this cosiest of writing retreats I’ve found that creativity has flourished! It is peaceful within, the rain on the roof a mediative tune for my soul, the tap-dancing pigeon gracing me with its presence in-between nibbling seeds below the bird feeder just a metre or so away from me. The light is startlingly sheer and invigorating. Within me the transformation has been astounding, my heart is full of joy and energy, life feels lighter and more positive. Already I feel inspiration bubbling within me!
“Dreams are the illustrations from the book your soul is writing about you.” Marsha Norman
Imagine you’re writing to a reader in the future! To a new soul, yet to unravel the magic of books! What would you say to them? Would you share stories from your own life? Or inspire them with passionate prose or perhaps offer up playful poetic musings?
Just such a request was sent out to writers, scientists, artists, and other cultural trendsetters across the globe by Maria Popova. One hundred and twenty-one letters were received including ones from Mary Oliver, Jane Goodall, Neil Gaiman, from composers, philosophers to a 98-year-old Holocaust survivor.
Over eight years, together with her publisher friend Claudia Bedrick, they collated the letters, matching each of them with an illustrator, artist or graphic designer … bringing each letter individually and vividly to life!
I read about the creation ‘A Velocity of Being’ last year and ever since couldn’t wait to hold this treasure of a book in my hands. Although released in January, they had underestimated the demand and my book finally arrived last week.
With deep reverence I opened the box, with surgical skill (or so I liked to think) I cut gently through the tightly wrapped cellophane. I’m sure I heard a drum-roll as I opened the pages and started to read … my heart singing in harmony with the emotions and thoughts of the letters.
Here a just a few snippets:
“No matter where life takes you, you’re never alone with a book, which becomes a tutor, a wit, a mind-sharpener, a soul-mate, a performer, a sage, a verbal bouquet for a loved one.” Diana Ackerman
“Yesterday I swallowed a book. Opened it, read it voraciously, then gulped it down in a single sitting. … A book, and the universe within, is the touchstone for today, yesterday, and — wow, I can’t wait to find out what I read tomorrow.” Anthony Horowitz
“A writer can fit a whole world inside a book. … . Somewhere, is a book written just for you. It will fit your mind like a glove fits your hand. And it’s waiting. Go and look for it.” Neil Gaiman
Music is an integral part of our lives, winding its way into our souls even before our birth. The array of sounds touch us to the core, reflecting our emotions, creating unique feelings, supporting us through crises, lifting us to new heights of joy. The variety of music is infinite and the range of reactions it creates within us is never-ending.
Lately I’ve been lucky enough to come across three pieces that sparked absolute awe within me, carrying me beyond the realm of the conscious to purity of just being.
The first one is a favourite for buskers around the globe, with the haunting refrain echoing around shopping precincts, tumbling down cobbled alleyways. For some reason many see this as a ‘simple’ tune to sing. Nothing could be further from the truth; it demands deep soul-searching from the singer, one so raw that the unadulterated passion is etched on the singer’s face, until the searing intensity of the song is felt by all. Jeff Buckley brought this Leonard Cohen song to millions around the world, and it was my favourite version until I saw this one below.
Many thanks to Laurie Buchanan at Tuesday with Laurie for introducing me to this breathtaking and heart-stopping ‘Hallelujah’ by K D Lang, which had me in tears in the end as the singer greets Leonard Cohen who is seated in the front row.
To lighten the mood my next tune is from on of my all time favourite songs; one that saw me through university and beyond. The first time I heard it was on a sunny day in Scotland (a rarity in itself as many of you will know) and it was one of those perfect days. Sitting on a window ledge with my legs dangling out I listened to this song for the first time as I watched the golfers at the 18th hole in St. Andrew’s. As I heard ‘Africa’ by Toto my spirits soared, life was technicoloured glorious!
Recently, I came across a new piano version of the song. The energy and vitality of Peter Bence, the pianist, is contagious, his enjoyment totally absorbing and fervent. Who knew the inventive sounds of a grand piano? For many musicians the piano lid bangs and the pulling of the piano strings might be cringe-inducing … but wow! The ultimate sound is spellbinding and unforgettable!
The final offering is one of the most original and eye-catching lyric videos I’ve come across. It is particularly apt for all writers out there and has a marvellous retro feel to it. The message of the song is both stirring and heartfelt, the tenderness and beauty of both the music and lyrics merging to the sublime. I hope you enjoy ‘Taste’ by Sleeping at Last as much as I do and many thanks to Sue Dreamwalker who introduced me to this song on her post Fixing From The Inside ~ To fix the Outside.
Before the video, here is just a taste of the chorus:
‘To fists unraveling, to glass unshattering. To breaking all the rules, to breaking bread again. We’re swallowing light, we’re swallowing our pride. We’re raising our glass, ’til we’re fixed from the inside.’
Thank you so much for listening to this musical interlude, and as always I look forward to your comments and discussions!
For many years I have been an avid reader of Maria Popova’s learned articles. She is a gifted writer and created Brain Pickings in 2006 to cover such diverse topics as literature, philosophy, science and art. Since 2012 Brain Pickings has had the honour of being included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive.
In one recent article readers were introduced to the wonderful poet Marie Howe and her poem ‘Singularity’. Inspired by Stephen Hawking’s work, the poem was written to a short deadline; a daunting undertaking for someone whose creations are often years in the making.
The incredible and striking poem would not leave me and I hope you find it equally as thought-provoking. Below the poem is a video with an explanation and reading of ‘Singularity’.
by Marie Howe
(after Stephen Hawking)
Do you sometimes want to wake up to the singularity we once were?
so compact nobody needed a bed, or food or money —
nobody hiding in the school bathroom or home alone
pulling open the drawer where the pills are kept. For every atom belonging to me as good Belongs to you. Remember?
There was no Nature. No them. No tests
to determine if the elephant grieves her calf or if
the coral reef feels pain. Trashed oceans don’t speak English or Farsi or French;
would that we could wake up to what we were — when we were ocean and before that
to when sky was earth, and animal was energy, and rock was liquid and stars were space and space was not
at all — nothing
before we came to believe humans were so important before this awful loneliness.
Can molecules recall it? what once was? before anything happened?
No I, no We, no one. No was No verb no noun only a tiny tiny dot brimming with
is is is is is
All everything home
Finally, I want to thank everyone for the beautiful and thoughtful comments on my previous post. Owing to a viral infection morphing into a nasty and debilitating chest infection I, along with the whole family, are unfortunately ill. I will reply when possible and return fully to blogging when better.
This time of year is a struggle for many gardens, and particularly in the UK as it endures an unusually long heatwave. For most of us, watering is not so tricky, but I wonder how this oasis of peace is faring on the ‘open’ seas?!
Who’d ever imagined a garden on a boat? Not I! On a tour of this most unusual ship moored in Harwich I was wonderfully surprised to be greeted by this most unexpected addition on the deck of the ship.
Thinking about my own passion for gardening, I realise it is a wonderful source of solace. The peace and tranquility brought by the tending to the plants, seeing their growth, caring for them is incredibly soothing. So it has been throughout time. Viewing the garden on the ship I felt an immediate sense of serenity, a hint of magic, the flowers sparkling, the details in every nook and cranny a delight to discover. The garden oozed with tranquility … it was hard to tear myself away and continue the tour.
“Don’t underestimate the therapeutic value of gardening. It’s the one area where we can all use our nascent creative talents to make a truly satisfying work of art. Every individual, with thought, patience and a large portion of help from nature, has it in them to create their own private paradise: truly a thing of beauty and a joy for ever.” Geoff Hamilton
“It goes back to the garden telling a story. You make up bits and play with them to see if they ring true. Sometimes this works out first time and all is well and good, but as often as not you have to fiddle and reshape until it is right.
In the garden or allotment we are king or queen. It is our piece of outdoors that lays a real stake to the planet.” Monty Don
I will write much more about this fascinating ship in a later post this month but wanted to share snippets of this tenderly loved and cared for garden today.
PS. Thank you to everyone for your wonderful support and comment on my last post ‘Loyalty & Trust’. For anyone who didn’t see my addition to the post during late Tuesday afternoon I found to my utter surprise that my reviews had been restored! A fantastic result and I was appreciative of their email apology later in the week, albeit without any explanation.