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Archive for the ‘soul’ Category

The great rumble and lurch as I hurtle along the concrete path, a sudden lift in the pitch black. The lights become smaller, we bump through the blanket and poooof!

Out we pop above the beautiful marshmallow mattress of cloud-cover. Rolling out into the distance like a soft winter blanket. The purest while, rippled and dappled with the blue of the dawn.

A bright orange speck on the horizon splits through distant cover and streaks a sunbeam across my vision. The colour, the deepest brightest blood orange. A tint only possible made by something Greater.

The sweetest, rawest sunrise over T5, en route to Copenhagen, 7am in October.

The infinite bobble blanket so beautiful, my heart swells. Another small adjustment, a gentle tug forward, and we rise another few thousand feet, the blanket drops away.

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Goosebumps. A spark.

I read this article:

https://medium.com/life-learning/last-night-i-panicked-i-was-scared-id-been-wrong-2540105fe554#.79tdh9l8j

I saw this quote:

I think there are too many people who try and present a smiling, sexy, happy, glamorous version of themselves online. Their lives appear perfect, without a glimpse into the shadows and the shit that keeps them up at night.

I feel draw to the phrase “The shadows and the shit”. It’s the dark side of all of us. “I’ve got fractures, cracks and damages”. We all have. It’s our humanity. It’s our beauty.

I feel a stirring in my soul. It looks like a poem, tastes like a song.

Inspiration hits. “Ding”.

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Two days staring at the sea. Trying to read a book. Feet in the sand, wind in my hair.

With the morning come the dolphin pods, one, two, three. Arcing out of the water with their shiny grey fins.

As the sun makes it’s own arc from left to right of our ocean view, the water glitters in the bright sunshine, the wind bends the grass.

Today is filled with shell collecting, then painting on our wooden deck, then eating, then sandcastle building.

More staring at the sea. It’s addictive, it’s hypnotic. I see other humans doing it too.

With the evening come the pelicans, on their journey home from a busy day fishing. They pull back their wings and point their beaks at the ocean, a final plummet for a fishy snack.

The sky turns dusky blue, then orange, like it’s on fire, then pink and finally mauve.

Another day is done.

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Once more I make the early morning roll down the hill to the Heathrow bus stop. It’s early. I know this because it’s dark, the sky screams night time, and the only other soul I see is a man doing the Fresher fandango; a weaving walk towards amd past me, on and up the hill. He had a good night…
I’m off to Madrid today, the glittering world of publishing and my recent jump into a new, “big” job (hence the lack of blog posts this month) is taking me to Europe’s largest oncology conference, to meet, mix and mingle with people who are trying to save the world from cancer. That’s pretty incredible.
On my roll down the hill I had my usual and slightly bizarre outpouring of mind chatter. The monkey mind is a morning person, it seems, questioning this lifestyle, this work, kissing goodbye to my husband to leave for another 4 day stretch, to conference centres and hotel rooms and powerpoints and high heels… The reason for this? A very interesting session last night at The New Year’s Resolution Club on Authenticity.
How much of life is driven by what you want and what you believe in? How many of you decisions do you run through a value-checker first, ensuring they are aligned with your personal value and beliefs? And how much is a conveyor belt, designed and built by someone else, you’re just on for the ride? Sometimes it’s hard to say.
This morning, on that trundle, I checked in. I travel, which I love, I work for a company doing good in the world, helping people to search for the cure for cancer (amongst other things!), I am amongst intelligent, creative people who believe in a common good, and I get paid to do it so I can live in an amazing city with my wonderful husband. OK, my grass IS green, vibrant, in fact.
My job is now to ensure I bring myself 100% with authenticity to the party. I don’t need to fill shoes of people who have gone before me. I don’t need to be the glossy career girl in the magazine pages. I need to be me, right here, right now.
Last night I packed, in my tiny case, amongst the high heels and tangled up with the laptop cable, my hair straighteners. I thought I’d need to make a “good impression” in the board meeting tomorrow by ironing flat my curls, to fit in and be professional. In a small act of tingling defiance this morning I whipped them out of my case and put them back in my drawer. Authenticity starts right now, the straightners stay at home!

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I just had my first ever singing lesson. Why? Why not. Well, I do have reasons. I wanted to challenge myself, to push myself a bit. I wanted to explore my vulnerability a little. I wanted to see if there was another way of expressing myself and creating something. But most of all I wanted to know if I could, one day, stand up infront of another person, or people and sing. Really sing. Not belting-my-heart-out-just-like-Maria-Carey singing, but sing from my heart, from my soul, 100% me.

It was scary. Despite being with a lovely, patient and supportive teacher, it was actually terrifying. I was given breathing exercises and body awareness exercises. It turns out I forgot how to breathe properly. I’m not as in tune with my body as I could be. Work needs to be done there. Interesting…

And I hadn’t even thought of a song to sing, or even what my goal was in going to the lesson. As I was in the moment I thought it through and realised that I was there to meet myself, through my singing voice, something (and someone) I have yet to meet. My singing experience to date? Well, there’s the jumping on pleather couches in Karaoke booths in Soho, draining vodka cokes and doing Celine impressions with my mates… No? OK, how about the singing in the chorus line of my work Christmas plays for a few years? Hiding at the back, blending in, enjoying the buzz, but my voice meshed in with everyone else? No…ok… chanting in yoga? A long pure ahhhhhhh, followed by an ooooooo and then an ummmmm, starting my note after the first person
started and ending it before the last?

Not an epic back catalogue.

After the physical and breathing exercises, it was then time for the notes, confronting my own sound in that living room was a little intense. But then came the song, I had to sing something – what did I want to sing? I hadn’t even thought about it! Panic. Mind went blank. X Factor audition fear creeping in. Breathe in, breathe out. OK, Amazing Grace. REALLY? Where did that come from? OK, I know the lyrics… sort of.

So, I did my best to gather my self-confidence, took a couple breaths and sang. It felt nice. It sounded OK. I wobbled at the end, my cloak of self-doubt wrapping itself tightly back around my shoulders.

My teacher said it was good. I have potential and strength in my voice. Warm pride washes over me. Relief.
I sang a few more times, it didn’t get much easier, but at least I broke the seal. I’d done it before, I knew it was possible.

It’s such a weird thing going for a singing lesson. Especially if you have never done it before. If you’ve spent your whole life believing it’s not something that you are any good at and so aren’t supposed to do. You have this deep crust of emotional baggage which has built up around your soul – and it’s your soul you are trying to access – it’s there that you need to sing from (as my teacher informed me) – and I had to mentally break that crust apart. And that’s a lot to do in one hour on a Tuesday night in April.

I think I opened a crack. A tiny glint got through. Or at least the crust softened a little. And it felt great.

So, an hour later I emerged back out into the cool evening with my notes from my lesson (breathing exercises for the bath, some scales and the mission to find a song that I want to sing from my soul with ahead of my next lesson) tucked in my pocket. As I walked down the hill towards home I hummed a merry tune and let a smile spread across my face. I took the first step, I sang infront of a stranger, and the goal has been set – I’m going to access my soul through singing, so now the next step – I just have to find the song!

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I’m home for the weekend. “Home” being back at my mum’s, where I grew up. At mum’s place the morning noises start quite early, even on a Sunday. The running of the bath, the sighs and coughs as people stir, the dog on his excited clatter as he heads off on his morning walk across the field. Even the birds seem to want to get started on the day bright and early here.

I turn into even more of a night owl when I’m home. Usually relishing the fact that it’s a weekend, I’m on my own and so I’m allowed to lie in as much as I want. And there seems to be unlimited time to explore things here – new books to read, space to watch a film, do some random yoga in the living room… Or just to stay up late for no reason. It should be easy for me to miss the morning.

This morning it is December 1st, so the first noise to awake me was the call of “Rabbits!” the customary luck cry for the first days of the new month. I went to the bathroom and was met with a kaleidoscope of sunlight beaming through the stippled window. And a song popped into my head…. “That’s why I’m easy…. easy Like a Sunday Morning….”.

I knew it will be a beautiful day.

Desperate for more, I then hopped around the house seeking out new views of the beautiful Sunday morning. Birds criss-crossing the pale blue skies, frost dusting the flower beds in the front garden. I wanted to get out into that world.

I don’t have a garden in Oxford, not one of my own (it’s a plan for 2014…) so it’s difficult to pop out and have a morning contemplation. But here I just put as many clothes on as I could, wriggled into my trusty duffle coat, pulled my bobble hat over my ears and headed up the garden.

So now I sit, on the faded wooden porch of our summerhouse, overlooking a wonderful wrangle tangle winter garden of slightly overgrown grass and fallen leaves. I’m next to our fishpond, which has been here for as long as I know. It’s concrete walls are cushioned with moss and the surface on the water speckled with green. I can see two pillar box fish nibbling on the surface.

And it’s beautiful. It’s calm. I can hear the busy chatter of the many birds who live in the trees. Even the frenzied beat of wings as a bird launches from our bird feeder. The dog is up here with me, curious and keeping me company. Rusting and snuffling in the bushes.

Everyone and then I hear a snarl of an engine, a motorbike out on an early country spin. Or the whoosh of a car coming down the road.

A distant train, carving across the patchwork countryside.

And the beams of sunshine dance across the glistening grass,as the frost starts to melt, highlighting patches of leaves, bark, pond life, and right up onto the side of my face, warming me from the outside.

I can go round the world and experience moments like this. Those stolen minutes as the world is waking up. Usually on beautiful beaches, or nestling at the foot of wild and imposing mountain ranges, but here I can experience exactly the same feeling. At the bottom of the garden in my family home. Easy.
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Pond

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A month ago I was in America visiting my great friend and creative inspiration, Anita. I’ve had some short but incredibly powerful adventures with her over the last 18 months, from being slapped and covered in yogurt in naked bathhouses in Korea, to being her “drive-thru bridesmaid” as she walked down the aisle in Las Vegas, to our most recent adventure, tai chi and sand dollar hunting in her new patch on the planet, North Carolina (she followed the man of her dreams from Beijing to Raleigh, Durham!).

As Anita settles into her new groove she’s been dabbling in creating some beautiful art and I was lucky enough to have dinner with her and a tour of her recent paintings with an insight into the technique of intuitive painting. Anita had created some amazing, colourful, evocative, beautiful paintings. They sang and danced with feeling and little peeks of nature and creatures and I was captivated. She also allowed me to peruse her art journal, again each page packed with colour and intrigue; part scrapbook, part wall hanging, this seemed to be a wonderful collision of musing and art itself and appealed to the journal/diary writer in me, as well as the wannabe scrapbooker and closet painter (REALLY!!). As I bade farewell to Anita after that supper, I promised I’d send her some interesting tickets and bits from my next destination (New York) and I immediately wrote a mental note to Google “Intuitive Art workshops in the UK” when I returned home.

So I did both. I sent scraps of tickets and receipts to Anita when I got home, traces of my trip, and I Googled Intuitive Art. Alas, courses in the UK are few and far between. But I found an interesting book, “Brave Intuitive Art”. I read it. Then I ordered two stretch canvases, a box of 10 tubes of economy acrylic paints, and some foam brushes. They arrived this weekend. I got a buzz of excitement. I collected together a couple of jars and a fish shaped dish to mix some paint. And I waited…

It took me three days to be brave. Then, tonight, when my other half had left to go to the gym (a rare quite moment to myself!), I made the leap and ripped off the cellphane covering on the canvases and squirted some colours into my fish dish.

And suddenly I was so excited, and inspired.

I’ve been thinking about the white space on the canvas for a couple days. I’ve been projecting a scene from my memory when with Anita in North Carolina – walking along the beach with a sweep of yellow sand to the right and the tumbling blue sea to my left. So this is what I painted. And then I washed a sky – I read and heard from Anita that the starting point is the wash of the background. From there you add and build and it really takes its form through the layers and peeling and revealing the underneath.

I was using a foam brush, a completely foreign implement, but it was perfect. I let go of any desire for perfection, found my inner child and painted without judgement or criticism. It felt amazing! I then dipped the foam in water and swept across a stormy sky. The watered down paint dribbled and drooled down the canvas making beautiful lines like tears down the picture. I swept across with a clean brush and it revealed white streaks beneath the paint. It just got better and more interesting and more fun.

I was ready to leave that canvas for now and lay in out to dry, I’d suddenly been struck with inspiration for the next canvas and had to get cracking.

So I’m off to Australia in January and I’ve never been before. I’m looking forward to it a ridiculous amount and have so many expectations and dreams about what it will be like. So I thought it would be really fun to paint my current idea of “Australia”. Reds, browns, oranges. Rocks, mountains, roots. And a blazing sun scorching down.

And before I knew it, the doorbell rang. He was back from the gym. I had finished my brave intuitive painting just in time and I felt elated! I can’t wait to do the next step and start layering and building on my ideas.

So here are my paintings so far. They are just the start. I’m hoping they’ll look better by the end, but for now I’m revelling in the experience and the feeling of being swept up in a waft of inspiration. At the moment I am naming them “Kure beach” and “Australia” but that may change with time. I’m going with the flow, and it’s all thanks to Anita!

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