Tag Archives: Life

Learning from a master

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A portion, of course, from East Coker  ‘The  Four Quartets’ by T. S Eliot, a poem in its entirety that continues to move and intrigue me as I spend my portion of life on an increasingly perturbed island on the edge of Europe, very much greater in it’s own mind than is realistic or desirable.  But then in his words ‘Mankind cannot bear too much reality’

This is where I come in – reality is where I live and it hurts.  I notice others can perform the human dance a lot better than I  – there is a dissembling in order to accommodate and I find it a tricky route. I feel stranger than perhaps I am – a half century on feeling on the edge of a tribe, and never within it.. Even the one I produced myself , of which I am inordinately pleased with.

I would liked to have met Thomas Stearns, spent an evening of ordinary discourse, shared a bottle of wine and a meal. It’s not going to happen. But like Mr W.B. Yeats, he is as much a presence in my life as the living, and a very welcome one that.

I shall be raising a glass to both my companions, and feel gratitude that they were here – in their end was my beginning.

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Life Matters

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From W.B.Yeats poem

…. and it is the start of a new year for all of us.  I am listening closely to the world via the radio – my trusty Radio 4 gives me the impression I am part of it all.  Life is struggle – there’s no way around it for any of us, but the struggle can be fun, uplifting, treacherous – all a mess. That is what I bring today, a big mess of confused memory, thoughts, stretches of imagination – every day I have to pull myself dragging and screaming into the world and try and imagine something new and beautiful to make it worthwhile.  For some people it may seem a hop and a skip to get on with the day – what a blessing that would be! But I had dealt me a melancholic disposition, so it starts with me talking quite  sternly with myself to arise. Once that’s done, everything seems to fall into place –  breakfast, dog walk, and back to the p.c for some illustrative work.

I like having the voices over the radio lull me into the sense of belonging to a tribe – this morning the voices were singing my song about how its ok to have a disposition like Eeyore.  It’s easy in today’s madcap world of social media to imagine your life is a little one, in comparison to the amazing lives everyone else is leading – but I told myself decades ago that an Ordinary Life is a Good Life. And beats the alternative.  I suffered severe anxiety in my twenties and it propelled me into making some very healthy decisions – quit a corporate job, raised children (sans childcare!) and chose alot of frugal living choices to support me not working at a full time job. Its not for everyone, but I love that there is a new awareness growing exponentially that we do not need to consume all the time – that we can mend and repurpose stuff, and that self worth is separate from the external measures of success that we were sold.

So now I shall quit rambling and move into doing some of my stuff for the day – I hope you are living safe, secure and loving lives out there.

Keeping busy

It’s been mad hot here – and I mean mad – I don’t ‘do’heat – I am a coolio character who is sent into a tailspin when knocked off a very narrow spectrum of temperature tolerance.  I have a sneaky irritating condition which is exacerbated by fluctuations in weather, so I am trying desperately to stay cool.  My newest companion is a nine year old rescue dog – Reggie, who is frustrated too by the rising temperatures because it interferes with his walking schedule. Getting Reggie is the best thing I have achieved in a long time – less a rescue by us than a rescue of me by him.  I missed walking a dog since having lost Digger, missed the casual engagement with the local dog walkers, the daily interaction that brought the outside in. But we are back – and Reggie is settling in grand, a little heartbeat at my feet.

 

My other achievements in the past few months have been to include three new product ranges into my Etsy shop – to keep up interest!  I was considering how to use my card illustration to create another income stream, and have designed three different sized notebooks which incorporate my card design and inspiring quotation. I have taken life lessons from writers, musicians and philosophers for decades, and so share some of my favourites.  A further project is now available on Amazon too – a heftier volume featuring a selection of my card designs as a book to share on the coffee table – no note pages in this one! All the books are also available via the site at Blurb, but I have a few copies at Etsy which I can send out signed.  A further project in the pipeline should be with me soon –  a smaller production featuring design and quotation- more to follow!

Notebook

Fully illustrated notebook Modestly bites

Link to purchase ‘Modestly bites’ on Etsy    etsy.me/2NeDTnb

Three notebooks

Fully illustrated notebooks with full page illustration inside

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mod bites1abcde

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…Oh and before I forget I was delighted that one my designs is now up and running at the Urban Outfitters splendid site—-sweet!

Circle of Life

Circle of Life by anipani

 

Link to Urban page   bit.ly/2NbhKpU

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Reggie

Physician – heal thyself

historicdesignin00john_0049 copy 2I am not sure how to start – why I should even want to – connecting is not the straightforward process I would like. I am in a fug. I cannot straighten my own perspective on the world I experience – and having just removed myself from the benefits of prescribed medication for the first time in a couple of decades, I am trying to be gentle on myself, but now I am needed.  My husband has retirement challenges – the common experience of finding how to re purpose one’s life.  I know I can only enable – not do anything, but it’s not easy seeing the person you live with struggle with the existential loneliness that is being human. We all struggle with it to a greater or lesser degree – a universal challenge then – but he, like me, is not a great fantasist. He cannot imagine something that is not apparent. And I am beginning to consider that the art of delusion should be on the National Curriculum in order that we maximise the potential of mental wellbeing. So how can I help? Probably cannot. I choose to try and stay kind – not leaping to judge, remembering its the tiny things that make a person feel loved. But part of me is 6 year s old and screaming ‘What about me?’

And so it is. And it will go on being like this – worrying for him, about him, wanting more for myself, feeling anxious that my sons and their loved ones are going to have to feel the pains of being human.  The only real answer is non-being and I don’t think that will do down well with the family.

So tell me how you manage those feelings of hopelessness, lack of worth, lack of meaning.  Tell me how a walk in the woods nurtures you, listening to Bach, stroking the dog. What am I missing?  My rational self understands all these strategies, even believes in them, but there is still a deep well of loneliness that refuses to be filled . It’s not completely dry, but it could do with some refreshment. This once voracious reader cannot connect with the writer’s I love, something has broken and I don’t think it’s them.

Before the fall

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This is a wonderful spot for a picnic – there we were on the slope overlooking this little river at Glen Etive last Sunday, watching a fantastic stag watching us as he dominated his landscape.  My husband is a real photographer – whereas I am a beginner – and as is his wont, he finished his sandwich and jumped up with tripod and camera to capture a one in a thousand shot . He didn’t manage it. I heard him before I saw him, in one glorious arc lose his footing and fall face forwards down the slope . My consciousness sort of disappeared I think. I moved, found myself next to him without knowing how, looking at a very deep gash gushing blood from just above his right eye. I didn’t know where else to check. He was horribly shocked from having to drink in his own blood as it flooded into his mouth. Horror scene.

Cut to the following day – put together like Jack that tumbled down the hill by a gorgeous young doctor at Fort William ,  he was wearing his stitches like a veteran.

What surprised me most was how physical shock attacks – I was functioning enough to cope on the hill – made a compress, found a sleeping stranger down the road to check him over- drove an hour and a half to the hospital – but the following day I was  a wreck. Cognitively even more impaired than I normally am in a morning it  was back to hospital to check out his dizziness. All o.k. on that front , but suddenly my back seizes up in chronic pain. Bizarre.

A week later and we are all good. And I am even more aware of how lucky I am to have him here with me. But when we go picnicking up waterfalls again, and we will, I think we will equip ourselves with a phone to message and possibly a flare. Often there is no signal up those hills and if he hadn’t been able to walk back down, we would have been in a much worse predicament. We are sensible , we have all the walking gear – but that doesn’t exclude accidents that can turn into nightmares. As the Scouts say ‘ Be Prepared.’

Some of the shots that my husband has taken in the past – and some of my own – are available in the sites that can be accessed on the pages in my blog if anybody cares to take a look! I love his photography and they can make great subjects for my work at Society 6 and Redbubble which goes onto lots of products. Here’s one I made earlier!

stonework by anipanicuillens instnov5

weekly photo challenge – Earth

 

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Morning

I went out on an April morning
All alone, for my heart was high,
I was a child of the shining meadow,
I was a sister of the sky.

There in the windy flood of morning
Longing lifted its weight from me,
Lost as a sob in the midst of cheering,
Swept as a sea-bird out to sea.                          Sarah Teasdale

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/photo-challenges/earth-2017/

My spirit home is Scotland where I return again and again.

Inheritance tracks Part Two

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Baby awake . Walsall Art Museum

This is the second poem I want to share .Motherhood is such a large part of my persona that watching my sons develop into young men brings their absence from my daily round into sharp relief. Nevertheless it is an experience that has shaped me and tested me . As a young woman in my twenties there was virtually no consideration of the possibility of me having children – life was simply busy, and I had none of the maternal cravings that others seemed to feel.  I had never been around babies – I was the youngest – and had no extended family that included them.  I lived to work and to play , and did both probably harder than was good for my well being. So motherhood arrived in my early thirties – a biological imperative kicked in which I could neither explain nor ignore.  I was ignorant of all things to do with being pregnant and  further on ,of small human beings that had lots of demands. I was adrift in an alien landscape without a map.  I struggled. I loved this little stranger with a ferocity I had never experienced. He was a baby in pain during the first few weeks, and was not thriving. I was encompassed totally by my responsibility towards him, and increasingly tormented. It was not a happy time, and yet it was full of wonder and awe  and deep, deep love.

This poem by Sylvia Plath suggests the alienation that I felt at that time.

Love set you going like a fat gold watch. 

The midwife slapped your footsoles, and your bald cry

Took its place among the elements. 

Our voices echo, magnifying your arrival. New statue. 

In a drafty museum, your nakedness 

Shadows our safety. We stand round blankly as walls. 

I’m no more your mother 

Than the cloud that distills a mirror to reflect its own slow 

Effacement at the wind’s hand. 

All night your moth-breath 

Flickers among the flat pink roses. I wake to listen: 

A far sea moves in my ear. 

One cry, and I stumble from bed, cow-heavy and floral 

In my Victorian nightgown. 

Your mouth opens clean as a cat’s. The window square 

Whitens and swallows its dull stars. And now you try 

Your handful of notes; 

The clear vowels rise like balloons.

My first outing without my baby was instigated at the insistence of my husband and mother, and I was literally harangued into making an attempt to rejoin the world. I went to Walsall art musuem , where I was moved to my core by an Epstein bronze of a baby’s head. It inspired me to write my own poem. Its not a good poem, but it reminds me.

Bronze baby

Bronze baby, Epstein’s child.
Perfect depiction of infant
beauty, human fragility.
Lovingly carved, sculpted
polished, held. Immortalised
infant head of exquisite
timelessness.  How I want
to secrete you, cradle you.
placed so unprotected
in our midst.
You spoke to me that day,
slashed through silence,
touched a delicate, fragile
part of me, the voice I was
so unsure of. In the newness
of my motherhood,
you showed me what it means
to be a child.

I took your message away,
kept it safe, inviolate,
next to my heart. Today,
a decade late, I know
the voice I heard was not
the sound of my  newborn
but my own, untended
and unheard.