Who dreams in Latin?

blogging, daily living, Life, lifemeaning, philosophy, wellbeing

know thyself

Me apparently.  Now I understand there is going to be a minority of educated peeps who regularly visit their night time muse and discourse via that ancient language.  Because they can.  I am not of them.  I detested taking Latin in school and confounded attempts to make me regular or irregular with verbage, refused to consort with Hannibal and Hasdrubal despite the allure of elephants, and exited the class only with the ability to ‘tu, te, tui, tibi, te’ to  rhythm courtesy of my doctors eccentric wife who brought a whole new dimension of dance into the conjugation theme. Saying that I do know that ‘Julia puella parva est’ tells me what anyone with eyes could determine – Julia is a small girl. Latin as a discipline was forced onto my curriculum by my mother, who had been denied the opportunity and believed it to be necessary in any right thinking girls armoury, which may have been the case in Montaigne’s time, whose father denied his son the use of any other language as he grew up. But times change. Move on – the thrust of my enquiry is why would I be dreaming Latin phrases?  I awoke recently with the clear message of ‘Nosce te ipsum’ plastered all over my consciousness in the style of a Banksy’s graffiti.  I knew I knew what it meant, but couldn’t recall – I had to resort to the husband, who resorted to the Google machine.  Of course – Nosce te ipsum is ‘Know Thyself’  – now the nub of the real enquiry is why is my subconscious sending me this command?  Is it thrust at me dagger like, suggesting I lack self awareness and something very dark and looming is about to reveal itself in my personality?  Or is it somewhat self congratulatory , extolling the virtues of introspection and reflection which anyone who knows me will confirm I expound.  I like neither scenario – self congratulation is about as welcome as self flagellation in my eyes, with less soreness. And I have lived a whole life like Henny Penny who clucked around her friends asking whether the sky was falling .

Despite the anxiety around whether my subconscious is alerting me to something I ought to know, I welcome this intrusion .  ‘Know thyself’ seems a good mantra to me.  Look at your virtues and examine your faults – try every moment you can to be the best version of yourself – this is what I take from the message.  I fail, I pick myself up and I fail again, but in the attempt to understand my errors, my poor decisions, I end up making better ones. Everyone’s a winner. I have never regretted saying sorry. Sometimes I have not said it, or not soon enough and I have regretted that. I suppose saying sorry makes you vulnerable, shows a side that is less than perfect.  I like that. I like that when I create something and something goes wrong, I always end up with creating something better in it’s stead. Always.  And when someone says sorry to me, I tend to cut them some slack. That’s the way it works.

Nosce te ipsum.

St Augustine quotation Anne Corr

Yuhana no sakayuru toki ni

Art, blogging, Life, poetry, wellbeing, zen

..But just at the time of flourishing blossoms.

 

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From  The Tales of Ise – Ise monogatari  – anthology of Japanese poems from the Heian period 794  – 1185

Illustration my own, based on  Japanese illustration by Utagawa Hiroshige born 1797

 

Taking my own advice

blogging, daily living, Life, photogaphy, trees, wellbeing, zen

purleigh footpath

Further to my post about Shinrin-yoku, I decided to unyoke myself from my p.c. and treat myself and Digger to a well deserved break in the day. The sun was high, the sky was blue and the wind was refreshingly gentle as a breeze.  Digger is an old dog, so that breeze is a pre-requisite to a walk in the summer.  I keep valuing his presence more and more as his age becomes more and more apparent to me. I treasure my time with him – such is love!  I was considering this and more as I reflected on my life and times.  I have had a complicated relationship with love – I crave it’s presence and sumultaneously feel I somehow have an inadequacy deep within me to fully appreciate it.  I am so glad to have my family around me- but their presence is peripheral – I like to know they are there, but am happy they are living their lives their way. I have been this way forever – to the chagrin of my mother who would demand far more time from me were I to be complicit. Paradoxically I learnt my self sufficency from her – as youngsters my parents encouraged independence , valuing it above any expression of warmth and love. My parenting has been totally informed by my perceived lack of early sustenance- as young children mine could be under no illusion that the singular aim of life is to love! Both of them now would probably complain I wasn’t authoritive enough – oh the sad absurdities of parenting!

Enough – my aim of this post was to share my experience of a simple walk . The glory to be found in the ordinary is daily worth revisiting. I was considering this after hearing a radio 4 programme promoting an upcoming project ‘Accounting for taste ‘wherein the producer/presenter Matthew Sweet  is wanting us, the great unwashed, to share what we consider to be unique in our homes – the thing that makes home ours and ours alone. I like listening to this sort of thing – connecting to ordinary lives , and I thought about my own environs. I live in a very ordinary semi- detached home in a very pleasant suburb of a Midlands town in U.K.  My house is not extraordinary in any way whatsoever, and yet if you walked into it, you would feel us. We are all there , family moments imbibe each room, mementoes collected, stones given to one another as gifts of love, paintings by the children on fridge a decade after having been produced, percussion instruments littered around, bongo drums to pick up and mess with, artworks collected over decades , photographs by my brilliant photographer husband and books. Lots of books. My own tributes to my dogs, dead and alive  are in the form of knitted statues – definitely unique! You get my meaning – our lives are full of meaningful and lovely memory that makes us unique, but none of them have any value really to anyone outside of the family, and that is fine. I am o.k with that. I love our ordinary. I celebrate it. One of the character traits of my youngest son that makes me most comfortable is that he gets this already – in a world increasingly desiring us all to be part of something ‘special’. Life is special. Life is enough. For decades I sought meaning beyond that , and yesterday felt healing. I understood that everything is of and from the same happening. Some things started their lives at different times on that happening timeline. I was telling Digger this so that he knows too. Bless. The pictures show where I was, two minutes walk away from the front door, a public footpath takes you away from the cares of the everyday world. Nice.

 

purleigh footpath2purleigh footpath3

If you want to link up with Matthew Sweet for his upcoming programme at Radio4 you can link up by using the link Accountingfortaste 

 

 

Shinrin-yoku

Art, blogging, books, Life, trees, wellbeing

trees 2trees

I was entranced to discover there is a word for the feeling of well being I share with millions of you – Shinrin-yoku, a Japanese term that means “forest bathing”. The idea being that spending time in the forest and natural areas is good preventative medicine, lowering stress. Allelochemic substances ‘phytonicides’help slow the growth of fungi and bacteria. When humans are exposed to them, these chemicals are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, relieve stress and boost the growth of white blood cells.  garlic, onion, pine, tea tree and oak are all examples of plants emitting phytonicides.

When we walk in Scotland, we spend most of our time simply being in the landscape, enjoying the feeling of well-being that we both find there. I take lots of photographs there and these inform much of what I do when I am creating both illustration and the handmade books. I go back to those photographs time and again, both to recreate the feeling of creativity, and to inspire new designs.  Just browsing through my back catalogue  provokes a feeling of joy, remembered tranquillity and when I am in a slump of not knowing how to move forward, I take a step back and invariably come across something to make the spark reignite.

Today I rediscovered these woods, and immediately I am reminded of the wonderful treatise by Herman Hesse on the sanctuary of trees. I breathed a sigh of recognition when I first read his words – they are beautiful – I can only urge you to find a copy.

You can find the essay online here ; Herman Hesse Wandering

In the meantime, don’t forget to get some time in to shinrin-yoku

 

‘Only connect -live in fragments no longer

Art, craft, daily living, Life, wellbeing

‘Only connect! … Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer.’  E.M.Forster

nrwnew4ab cnew4ab copy

One of my greatest pleasures in life is creating. To find yourself living that flow of easy ‘being’ when the mind and the body are occupied has to be the up there with the best things. I don’t care who you are, or what you have – this is the experience that tops status, recognition , fan appeal.

This weekend I dedicated my time and my attention to two orders I had received both of which were important to the customers and were wanted quickly – one for a wedding and one for a birthday. I normally give myself a little more time but I decided to shelve all my other commitments and concentrate my efforts. ( Saying that, there is a minimum of effort I have to put in domestically to keep the wheels on !)

As a result I have made myself a new product line for my handmade goods within the Etsy environs. And I am chuffed!! It is a robust book slip cover which fits my handmade books so they can be kept safe and lovely.  I shall be experimenting some more with different finishes and papers, and hopefully list them as an add-on item to the books.

This one I have paired with the journal I made which includes blank sketching/writing pages as well as quotation and illustration. You can see the journal here  http://etsy.me/29M0msh.

Every time I send something out into the world because a customer has ordered it, I get a frisson of excitement. Will they love it?  Often I am lucky enough to get amazing comments and always feel incredibly grateful that someone has bothered to do that. I create in a very humble and small way – but it means something somewhere to someone that their order has been completed with attention and love. And it has.

Recently I sent an order that was followed up with a response that astonished me. This is the message she sent to me

‘Anne, I have just opened your parcel. I saved it until I was quite alone. I looked at carols book first and it was so beautiful it made me cry. It was so exquisitely done, with the breathtaking poetry and lovely tiny drawings of animals. You truly have a wonderful gift. Thank you so much. Then I opened the Elizabeth 1st one, which is also very lovely. THEN I carefully opened the prb one and my goodness, I was absolutely entranced. I know he will be truly amazed. It is really breathtaking. How am I ever going to be able to part with any of them? Thank you so much.
Sue’

Isn’t it wonderful that we can connect through making?

 

 

 

The only philosophy

Art, blogging, daily living, Life, mankind, music, wellbeing

Poecard

 

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.’…..
………….But the most complete experience of all, the only one superior to music, is silence:
When the inexpressible had to be expressed, Shakespeare laid down his pen and called for music. And if the music should also fail? Well, there was always silence to fall back on. For always, always and everywhere, the rest is silence.”

From Aldous Huxley ‘Music at Night’

When I was seventeen I had my first adult trip to London. That is, I and two friends travelled unescorted from the Midlands to London in order to go to the theatre. The play was Amadeus, about the composer Mozart , and it changed my life. I remember walking out into the landscape of London at dusk with the music still playing within my head, and my heart felt as though it had expanded. I loved my life, I loved the paving stones, I loved my two companions dearer than I had loved them before, I loved the light, the sounds, the very air I was breathing.

I had experienced the transformative powers of listening with an audience to the exquisite sounds first heard by Mozart, then passed on by him to the world for all time.

I was seventeen quite a long time ago. I have lived several lives, some of them have been my own – to paraphrase Stanley Kunitz. I know more and less than then. I know more facts, more detail, more pain, more sorrow, more joy, more excitement – and yet I feel I know less. I am less prepared for life at 55 than I felt at seventeen, when nothing felt improbable, and I felt hungry for experience.

Yet last Sunday I returned to that state of euphoric shared experience when I hear Karl Jenkins conduct his Requiem for Peace ‘The Armed Man’ as well as other scores at TheRoyal Albert Hall to commemorate the Battle of the Somme. Was it Nietszche who said ‘Music is the only philosophy?’ On sharing that concert with how ever many in the auditorium , I felt again the transendence that

music can bring to me. Nature too sometimes moves me to the same level of consciousness, but music can take me there so quickly, so efficently, a motorway route to a temporary bliss. Bliss – what a good word – encompassing sorrow inside it as well as joy, that bittersweet sensation of tasting death and yet steering away.

I wanted to thank Karl Jenkins. This is it. A thank you from the depths of my being for showing me what humanity looks like in its greatest form, a generous, powerful force of love that knows no boundaries. There are no boundaries.

 

Benedictus -The Armed Man -A Mass for Peace

 

 

Get yourself a superpower and change the world.

Art, blogging, daily living, illustration, Life, United Kingdom, wellbeing

kindsight.jpgKindsight is my new name for a human superpower.

It is the magical property that inhabits the living. The force that overcomes the sour, the hardened, the exhausted and the weary.

It is our saving grace.

In a world that appears to value money over everything, kindsight is the antidote.

It is the superpower that we see performed in the everyday, in the chaos of what it means to be human.

It is the difference between animal and artificial intelligence.

It is the practice of compassion in a busy, consumerist, exhausted world.

It is the application of compassion in your life. The life you live today. The life where you wake up tired and the toaster isn’t working and the children are bickering and the dog has just peed on the floor. It is the practice that overcomes your battle weary state of mind and prevents you from throwing a two year old tantrum. Because the dog didn’t know what it was doing , and children will always bicker before the school day begins, and toasters break.  You put on those metaphorical glasses and begin your day with kindsight – you don’t yell at the kids – they begin their day without the humiliation of a scolding, and the dog is blithely unaware of its ageing and incapacitated bladder.

 

Kindsight changes you.  Kindsight changes everyone.  In a secular world , compassion becomes ever more necessary .  We tore up the rules, and so we have to write ourselves a guide book , because isn’t that what religion has given human beings for the last couple of millenia?  In different guises, under different theologies, guidebooks to help us live co-operative, meaningful lives.

 

Kindsight is the superpower that you give yourself.  It is a sort of cyclical transformer. The more its used the more powerful it becomes.  You know that yourself – you’ve witnessed random acts of kindness from strangers – and paradoxically, strangers are often those most willing to show it.  Why aren’t those closest to us willing to show the same levels of compassion. It’ s our families and our colleagues that often suffer the worst sides of our selves.  It’s because it’s hard to show kindness when we’re stressed and tired. And we’re often stressed and tired.  That’s why kindsight is the superpower that will change your life. It’s a gear change – that’ s all it is.

 

With the benefit of kindsight we can change the world.

Barely there

Art, daily living, illustration, Life, LOVE, poetry, wellbeing, zen

wvx

With That Moon Language

Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, “Love me.”

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect. Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, What every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

-Hafiz

Images  Anne Corr

Renounce and Enjoy – oh, and read alot.

blogging, Life, literature, wellbeing

lifeI love that. Renounce and Enjoy. Three words that make a mantra. Yesterday I was listening to a great podcast by a blogger I follow, Jacke Wilson (History of Literature – Upanishads II)

I was soothed by his voice, and interested by his content because;

a) I love literature and it was titled ‘ History of Literature’ – no brainer then.

c) I have been fascinated by the history of spiritual development ( wanting to have some myself, being a Godless creature. I may need to realign that – I don’t think I am Godless, but unwilling to belong to the nomenclature ‘God’ as it  carries so many connotations.

I really enjoyed sharing his curiosity- it mirrors my own- what is there? who am I? and I have been discovering slowly over the past few years that I am drawn to the understanding about the connectivity of everything to everything else.  I have moments that beam into my day where I feel this truth. There’s no reason for it, no rational explanation that I can expound, no theology that I can share, just that momentarily I FEEL it.

This week has been extraordinary for one reason – Death is in it.  It is playing as a soundtrack in my head and I have no idea why – this is how it started.  I was driving across the country as is our usual custom on a Sunday, preparing for the work week in a different county to our home.  I spend this time either talking to my husband, listening to the radio, or in quiet contemplation.  On Sunday I talked.  I talk to him and he listens. It is a way of thinking for me. I had been considering a T.V drama I had  watched wherein a potential terrorist was going to blow him and his partner to smithereens in a public place to maximise the devastation. In the drama it shows the young man with his wife, explaining how they would be together after death, and used the metaphor of it being like moving from one room to another. Bear with me – I do not advocate terrorism (au contraire) but this is important.  Watching the drama play out brought something positive to me.  The metaphor was one that I could feel.  I have no strong belief about afterlife – my gut feeling is the body dies and we are gone. But my whole life  I have understood something other than this rationalisation. I was 11 when I encountered a death that was meaningful – my uncle, much beloved.  He has remained alive in me all my life, he has influenced my thoughts and my behaviours, he has helped me to be more the person I want to be than I would otherwise have been.  Is this life after death then? My husband and I have always been disturbed by the possibility of either of us dying- we don’t want to be left alone.  This is what this drama brought out in me. We will never be alone.  If I die first I know my loving presence will be felt every day by him, his presence will be felt by me if he dies.  It occurred to me in that discussion that possibly those who have died may feel  the vibration (forgive the word) of the love that continues in the living. Who knows?  Maybe Shakespeare knows I love him. Perhaps not personally, but maybe he feels the weight of love. How heavy is love anyway? Perhaps it should be better described as the lightness of love – for isn’t that what love does? Illumines and sheds burden?

Later that morning the radio played a marvellous monologue by a Bishop about Death – and learning to live well  with the knowledge of its inevitabality -“Courage is not being unafraid. It is to be very afraid, yet to overcome our fear and refuse to flinch. It is the best lesson life teaches us.”

Three Score Years and Ten

Jacke Wilson explains that Gandhi said if all the Upanishad and Hindu scriptures were to disappear but the first verse of the Upanishads were to remain, Hinduism would still exist. On being asked to make a summary of Hinduism , Gandhi chose three words  ‘ Renounce and Enjoy’.

And what Jacke does on the podcast is to bring his humanity to his attempt to understand what he’s doing on earth – he speaks directly to me, tells me it’s o.k to be human in the face of spiritual challenges. Like me he wants much of the world but not all of it, he wants some of religion, but not all of it, he wants more from the world, and more from religion than is available.

I fall down all the time at trying to be the person I want to be – but I keep trying , and I don’t even know what direction I am travelling in, I have no ultimate destination in mind even, I just know there is more to me than the me I have found to date. And like Jacke, its literature that led me to that well of sustenance.

And literature generally leads back to people, so really it’s other people that have illumined parts of my psyche that would otherwise remain in the dark – dead people too – Shakespeare, Montaigne (via Sarah Bakewell- thank you!), T. S. Eliot, Rumi, Iris Murdoch, William Golding, Herman Hesse.

 

Many thanks go to Jacke Wilson for bothering to do all thinking, the reading and the recording for the podcasts.  They are on my list of what to listen to – I recommend them heartily. Here’s the link to the first part of the one on the Upanishads HIstory of Literature, Upanishads Part 1

The Daily Conundrum

Art, blogging, Life, wellbeing

I have woken up this morning in a conundrum.  I don’t know what to do.  This is not a new feeling for me – but it is uncomfortable.  There is much I COULD do, mainly of the domestic nature – that never goes away. There is some of what I  MUST do – the arrangements for food, the dog walk, the reading of son’s draft for his dissertation ( though why he wants me to is questionable as I understand so little in it).  At the end of all that remains the burning question what do I WANT to do.

I spend alot of my creative time playing at illustration,  a little of my time actually making, and too much of my time trying to promote myself via the new technologies – and all without a great deal of success since my social media savvy is minute.  I have decided to try and be brave and do what I want to do more – which is create, and less time at the  techy end. That doesn’t sound that brave does it?

The more time is sucked up by t’Internet, the less time there is to do what nurtures me.  I realise this is slightly paradoxical as I am here, typing my resolution to stop trying so hard.

This is the plan then,

Coffee, Muesli, planning strategy to limit time spent on promotion. This may involve some research , so that will demand more time. See what I mean?  I need to reach a decision whether to commit to a new start with Folksy which is a U.K based online crafts seller.  I have been there in the past without much successs, but I like the look of it much more now, and Etsy has changed considerably since it opened up to the stock market.

Already then my first plan is unravelling, as the decisions I need to make suck up the time I wanted to reinvest in making.

And I havn’t even touched on whether I should consider my own website. A step too far methinks.

I have to go now. I have to start something. Now.

Here’s something I made earlier. If you want to investigate more of what I am up to in the handmade arena of my little life, then leap over to my Etsy store here,www.etsy.com/uk/shop/modestly  where I have some books and cards ready for your delictation.  I generally make to order, so the ones displayed are examples of the finished article.  The covers vary , as I like to make each order individual. If you go over to my facebook page, you can see photos there of completed books.

My illustration work is sold via a variety of sites, and is fairly eclectic in style.  I tend not to box myself in. The downside of this approach is that I don’t fit anywhere.  Sounds somewhat familiar, and it is this that I need to resolve.  Does it matter that I don’t fit? What am I trying to achieve?   I will never be ‘successful’ in any way that means anything to the outside world. I love the affirmation that selling something gives me – it is a reward that someone values something enough to pay for it. But it isn’t WHY I do what I do. I do it to stay sane in a mad, mad world.

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