Sunday, 9 August 2015

The strength and vulnerability of isolation

All my life I have been intrigued by solitary trees.
In more recent years I've started taking photographs of them.
There's something that draws me to them; a strength and solidity that stands boldly against many a dramatic back drop and I love that.
Against the odds there it stands, on open moorland, on top of a  hill, roots dug in to a cliff top or in the middle of a field where only the buzzards appreciate it's presence as an excellent viewing point for them to spot their next scurrying prey.
Each tree is so different, yet there's a familiar thread that binds them together in isolated unity.
A defiant:  "I'm here. I'm alone. I'm strong!"

And yet whenever I stumble across a tree on it's own I think of this famous quote by Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr,

"You come into the world alone and you go out of the world alone yet it seems to me you are more alone while living than even going and coming."

This is particularly poignant when I re-visit a tree I've long before photographed and discover it's been snapped in half or uprooted completely and lies dying alone and forgotten.  I can't tell when or why it's happened, was it diseased and I didn't realise?  Perhaps that last stormy night took it down - and yet it had survived maybe a 100 or more bad winters and spring gales...why now?

Off in the distance the forest stands unperturbed by the loss of it's comrade.  They stand together arrogantly looking on as I wonder how long my old friend's been lying there.
An unanswerable question of course.

Every now and then, when the storm becomes unbearable even the most independent and stoic need the shelter that friends and family can provide.

It's true that we will go out of the world alone - but we can allow those who care for us to be our companions and lovingly hold our hand for at least part of the journey.

"When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives." - George R.R Martin, A Game of Thrones.










Friday, 17 July 2015

Appreciation of now, and taking it all in.

Last night I dreamt about my Mum.  I don't often dream about her, but today I realised it's 22 years since she died in July 1993 at just 54 years old.
In my dream she was lying in bed talking to me, she said her arms were aching.  I asked her why? She said, "I have no one to hold.  Arms were meant to wrap around those you love."
I woke up and  though I was glad to have "seen" her I was sad that her arms ached.
Yesterday I spoke to Andrew about wanting to walk long distances, using my legs to walk miles and miles to experience the landscape and natural world on foot as that is what legs are for!
And then there's my hands...
I love to feel the texture of  bark on trees, I love to feel the cool earth on my hands as I pull the weeds from my veggie patch and I love the feeling of wool running through my fingers against the cool, metal seriousness of my crochet hook.
Our limbs, our eyes, our sense of smell, taste and touch, paying attention to their experiences is crucial to our well-being.  The more technological and "advanced" we become the further away we get from being human in the most fundamental and in my mind crucial of ways.
I'm not anti-advancements in science and technology, but we should make time for the basics, and actually what I feel is the most important aspects of being human.
To feel and be present in the world,  to just walk in nature without multi-tasking.   Taking in all that surrounds you and reminding yourself that this is it so make the most of appreciating and being part of the natural world surrounding you. Have a wonderful Friday everyone!  Love, Kathleen x
"To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour." - From Auguries of Innocence by William Blake



Monday, 13 July 2015

Laughter, life and the great outdoors.

For those who know me well it won't be news to read that humour plays a big part in my life - I believe laughter is an essential aspect of being human.  Every day I observe my life trundling along in all it's wondrous, fluctuating, madness and in between the serious stuff I sneak a peek at the more colourful, bizarre and uplifting opportunities for laughter, joy and appreciation of all that life has to offer.
Many comedians use their observations of the world to share their humorous view of all that surrounds them. But how long can this continue when we're not looking up any more?
Walking along the street,  or in the hairdressers, at the cinema for goodness sake and on the bus, no matter where I go I view the tops of heads. Seriously, I'm becoming an expert in trichology.
The studying of scalps, hair lines and hats is not because I'm abnormally tall for a 47 year old woman, but with heads tilted forward and the important job of checking phones now apparently an option of life or death , everyone and their dog (almost) has forgotten to look up and make eye contact with their fellow human. We can share our concerns, our laughter and joy with a passer by with a smile or a glance no words exchanged as we simply observe the same scenarios and share the experience of being in the same place at the same time.
Sadly this is something of a rarity these days. We're distracted by someone sending us a photo from 1000 miles away, when right in front of us a red squirrel has leapt and scurried across our path, or as the sun sets on our horizon we miss it as we're trawling through the filtered images by our, "friend" on Instagram.
This weekend friends spoke to me about the Scottish poet, songwriter and humorist Ivor Cutler (1923-2006) as they were sure I'd appreciate his work - and they were right!
His humour is so clever.
It can be dark at times (as is life) but his ability to observe his world back then, mixed with a tad of creative license is nothing short of genius.  I'm sure his humour will appeal to many, none more than those brought up in rural Scotland from the 40's onwards.
The flash backs to a life lived free from the intrusive clutter of today's TV's/iphones/smart phones and all things computery.
Bliss!
Look up from your computer screens and smart phones and let the outside world inspire you creatively today!  Before you do...GOOGLE Ivor Cutler and have a listen to some of his work!
"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh."  W. H. Auden


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Expressing yourself out of depression


Musicians express themselves through their music, artists with their brush strokes, writers craft and weave their words to release their emotional bundle; what about you?
How do you share with your loved ones and the world what you're really feeling? Who do you share your emotional truths with?  Who hears the plight of your broken heart as it reluctantly beats clinging onto a sadness long ago buried away from the sight of others?
When I hear the expression,
"I suffer from bouts of depression."  I think, how wonderfully intelligent we are -  isn't it fantastic that our body and mind recognises something isn't right, and gives us the, "nudge" that now is the time to address this horrible feeling?
The first place to start is by simply speaking up - admitting to yourself first and then sharing with others who love and care about you that you're not feeling good is the most important first step.
Only then can you start your journey back from depression.
So then, why not quietly make the decision today to stop putting a brave face on it and start being more honest about all that you're feeling?  And by this I mean, the good feelings, the bad and the ugly!  We are all capable of experiencing the whole spectrum of emotions, but how many of us are prepared to express the whole range?!  Culturally it's not encouraged to be emotionally honest, but our bodies know differently - burying our feelings makes us unwell.  Make a start on constructively expressing your feelings today and know that by doing so you're doing yourself a great favour - you might just find yourself emerging from that tunnel of depression far sooner than you'd anticipated.
With love,
Kathleen x
“Unexpressed emotions will never die. They are buried alive and will come forth later in uglier ways.” ― Sigmund Freud


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Be here for today, not tomorrow.


While you're striving to reach the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow you risk missing the beauty of the wondrous spectrum of colours displaying itself to you. 
Waiting for time to hurry up, working to help speed our lives along.
How sad.  
How wasteful.
All the while both the mediocre and amazing are fleeting past our consciousness as we sleep walk to the next big thing we want to experience.
What about now?  What has now done to upset you so much that you're choosing to turn your back on it?
The truth is that now is the only thing that's real.
Ssshhhh!!
Be quiet. 
Be still and just be present.
Look!  It's not so scary after all. 
Notice everything, the sounds, the smells, the colours - it's all right here in front of you right now.
No need to wait, no need to long for it - your senses are just waiting for you to join in! 
Your life is happening right now so let the body and mind become united and start celebrating your life experience! 
"You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.  Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land.  There is no other land; there is no other life but this." - Henry David Thoreau





Sunday, 7 June 2015

The patchwork of life.

Patchwork intrigues me.
The bringing together of pieces of fabric from a variety of sources to create one beautiful piece of art.
Some fabrics leap out and tickle my eyes with delight, while others blend silently into the background, each piece doing a great job at making the ensemble an awesome artistic achievement.
If I look at each piece individually I notice the texture, the neatness and quality of the hand stitched joins. Some pieces are frayed, some held tightly, some are perfectly symmetrical and knowing each stitch was done by hand brings a new quality to this hand crafted gem.
As in patchwork, as in life....
Each patch of my life has a different vibrancy about it, some pieces I don't wish to look back on, other patches I want to stare at and long to re-create.
The areas where the edges are frayed and the joins worn and thin are clear reminders of times when I didn't pay attention to all the aspects that make me whole.  My physical, emotional and spiritual needs all require daily attention, if I push any of them to one side the patchwork that is my life will not be able to hide the evidence.
How is your patchwork looking?  Are the edges of each patch beautifully held together, or is there some repair work required? Take time today to decide what you could do to ensure you can look back on today with joy and delight.  You can make this moment a beautiful snap shot of  your history; a life lived in balance and harmony will  help you create the most wonderful patchwork.
With love, Kathleen x
"We do not live an equal life, but one of contrasts and patchwork; now a little joy, then a sorrow, now a sin, then a generous or brave action." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Kindness: your natural way


You should express all your emotions, including your hurt, your confusion and your anger but they should be, "moved out" from your body constructively and not destructively! Expressing how you feel going by the sensations you have in your body is far healthier and effective than listening to your ego driven head mind and spurting out with derogatory disdain all that you feel, stamping your feet over how hard done by you are! Your body can deliver the same honest expression of your emotions but in a way that is not accusatory or hurtful, and you'll feel a whole lot better if you listen to your body as you say what you need to say.
Meet malevolence with a kind smile.  Listen to gossip with muted silence, sending feelings of kindness to the perpetrator and victim.  Express what you want to say with your feet firmly connected to the ground, an awareness of your in breath and your out breath, speak slowly and clearly and behind every word, think "kindness".
Kindness is the soothing balm on a gaping sore.  It's the antidote to the most venomous of poisons; and we all have the capacity to use kindness to quell the nonsense spewing from the mouths of others.
Be in charge of yourself, don't be dragged into behaviours or attitudes that don't resonate with who you are!  Be your own kind friend and make choices from a body mind, heart felt place.
With love, Kathleen x
"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." - Lao Tzu

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Moving on with purpose.

I was sitting in my car in Perth, parked up while my husband Andrew went to the opticians for his annual check up and it gave me the chance to do my favourite thing - watch people go by.
There were the striders and the rushers, the, "Notice me! I'm very important" upright, limb straight, unyielding sort of walker, the meanderers not sure why or where they're going, the chatty Mums pushing their prams and sharing how long they were allowed to sleep last night, the frail couple supporting each other, but each pretending it's the other that needs the support and the troubled school pupil rehearsing his excuse for not producing his homework that he promised to hand in today.
Each step towards wherever they were headed was significant, as sooner than before they were going to reach their destination and their day would unfold in a way they couldn't predict - and that's okay.
Each step we take is significant, we can move purposefully forward, we can blindly follow the masses, or drift slowly through the crowds oblivious to all that surrounds us.  At different stages of our lives we've probably experienced one, two or all of the above!
However, as you read this now you have the capacity to decide how you want the next chapter of your life to unfold.  With mindfulness you can receive clarity on how to hear what purposeful steps you could take today to enable you to "write" the beginning of your next chapter.
Enjoy!  With love, Kathleen x
"For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning." - (Little Gidding) T.S. Eliot


Friday, 24 April 2015

Live, love, cry, repeat.

In a moment our lives and relationships can change forever.  By accident or through illness in a heartbeat what we once took for granted as an immovable infallible union can become the most fragile and broken relationship we've ever experienced.  Our hearts seem to scream and race; our heads scrape around in the dusty dark cave of hopelessness for some sense or reason for the news we're hearing.
Sadly most of us will experience this state of complete shock and desperation at some point in our lives, so then why do we grieve and ache over the small stuff?
Some of the strongest people I know are those who have experienced real hardship and trauma, the daily up and downs, disappointments and failures just roll away with a simple shrug of their shoulders and a muttering of ,
"Shit happens - deal with it and move on!"
I think this is the case because they've been in that state of scrambling desperately for an answer to the really big unanswerable questions faced during a life and death scenario.  Perhaps, in a controlled environment we should be trained to deal with life's hardships at the appropriate level.  For example, the loss of a loved one would get the highest rank with the person being encouraged to cry, shout, be angry and in turn they would receive the relevant support they needed.  But they couldn't be given the highest rank of support, nor c
ould they be encouraged, or enabled to react at the highest level when they missed the last bus home from a night out!
On a day to day basis we have moments of joy, disappointment, frustration, annoyance, happiness, love and grief - that's life.
Practise the art of being emotionally honest at the appropriate level - it's far healthier than bottling things up on a day to day basis then having a massive outburst over something fairly minor in the bigger, more complex scheme of life.
"Look to this day!  
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence;
The bliss of growth;
The glory of action;
The splendour of achievement;
For yesterday is but a dream,
And tomorrow is only a vision;
But today, well lived, makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness,
And every tomorrow a vision of hope." - Attributed to Kalidasa





Sunday, 12 April 2015

Listen...really listen!

I listen to the radio a lot.
The radio in my living room is a bit ropey, it hisses and coughs it's way through my favourite programmes and shows.
I've tried hanging the aerial in different positions, but it never really improves things.
A favourite tune comes on and I somehow manage to ignore the background distortion and pick out enough of the music to be transported on a nostalgic journey to another place.
In my kitchen however the radio is a rather fancy DAB contraption.  The clarity is second to none.
I can almost hear the broadcaster create another laughter line the precision of the sound is so exact.
I only notice the difference in the quality of the two radios when I walk from one room to another.  If I stay in the kitchen all day I get lulled into the false belief that this is the quality of my radio listening life.
Maybe this is true of many aspects of life.
We ignore the annoyances that seem to be irreversible, we tolerate the background distortion and "make do" with the quality of life we believe is as good as it can get.
Why don't I just save up and buy another DAB radio?  That is a feasible and very do-able way to fix the fluctuating quality of my radio listening life.  Is there something you're tolerating because you think this is just the way it has to be?
"Where you are, be there totally.  If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now.  Then accept the consequences." - Eckhart Tolle